My month started with responding to reviewer comments for one of my papers. As always, I was overwhelmed when I initially got the comments. Unfortunately, the deadline was very tight which meant that all my efforts were focused on this paper. To make things more eventful, I was also preparing to move in with my partner after almost two years of long distance. I ended up going on a long hibernation from social media because I needed to focus on doing major revisions on my paper.
It has been rather difficult to juggle the move and PhD life. At times, I felt like it took away all my excitement I had for the move and I even felt that it was bad timing. But as the saying goes, sometimes, you just have to ‘trust the timing’. So, that’s what I did and it eventually worked out okay in the end. Happy to say, the paper was published a few days ago!
I have also been working on finalising my content for my intervention which has taken a lot of refining. We were granted with ethics approval on our modifications. It was very exciting to be able to finally start recruiting. The response so far has been a little disappointing, but I am aware that it is a busy time of the year with semester ending and upcoming exams.
In other news, I had the opportunity to do a one-day media training in Melbourne (cover photo taken at Oaks on William). It was quite overwhelming but it was so incredibly useful. I’m so glad I was able to tick this off my list because now it means I can take on requests as a DAA Spokesperson.
In summary, it has been a rather challenging but productive month. I feel a little overworked because the lines between my working hours/ weekdays vs. free time/ weekends have been blurred. The other reason I feel overworked maybe from setting up the new house and other duties associated with adulting. The whole process of moving has been very exciting but it has been a huge adjustment at the same time. We have realised that it’s going to take much longer to settle than we anticipated. So, we’re trying to make peace with that and be content with what we have (I still continue to document in the gratitude journal I started back in March).
September has been a slow month for me. I’ve had some minor setbacks this month as I realised that I required an ethics modification for my next project. Initially, I was a little disappointed as my original plan was to start recruiting this month. However, I strongly believe that every delay happens for a reason so I’m completely at peace.
I am calling it a slow month as I didn’t achieve what I had hoped to. While it certainly wasn’t what I hoped it would be, I still managed to get a few things ticked off. I submitted a paper, an ethics modification and presented an oral at a uni symposium. I’d like to think that this delay has been a blessing in disguise because it helped me refine the content for my upcoming intervention.
In other news, I have been very busy planning a personal milestone. It is something that I have been dreaming about for a long time now, so it was incredibly special when the good news came through. I am now patiently waiting for this long-awaited phase to unfold. Living in the present has never been so wonderful. I cannot wait to share the updates with you next month!
The year is flying away like crazy! I’ve continued to spend a lot of time hibernating this month which really helps with writing (at times). It only works at times because I suffer from Writer’s block on some days. I managed to get somewhat close to finishing another paper. I say ‘somewhat close’ because I am not sure how much work it will require. I worked on revising another paper which is almost ready to go.
In other news, I’ve started doing a bit of teaching again and taken on an admin role at journal club. Sometimes, it really helps to change up tasks and expose myself to other activities. I’ve also been finalising the finer details of my last project which finally received ethics clearance last week. Obtaining ethics approval was definitely the highlight of the month as it has taken almost two months to come together. I am so looking forward to starting the next chapter of my PhD.
There are still a few things I need to set up but I can definitely see light at the end of the tunnel. I have written up a monthly plan for the rest of the year which is a little unusual for me (I only write one at the beginning of each month). While I know that things may not fully go according to my plan, I still find it really useful to write as it helps me stay focused. It is so easy to get caught up in the little project and lose sight of the big picture!
Overall, it has been a pretty productive month. I have tried to get around Writer’s block and adapt to the situation by constantly telling myself that the output I am producing towards my PhD will never be consistent. Some days will be super productive while other days won’t be. It is okay to have both.
Here are my eats for this month 🙂 I’m currently obsessed with strawberries!
Another month down! It is crazy how fast the year is going. I have mostly been hibernating because I have been writing. One of the challenges that come with writing is that some days are better than others and I often underestimate the time it will take to do something (i.e. writing a section on X, finding a reference on Y). So, it can feel like I am not making progress on some days. However, the good news is that I have managed to finish the paper I was writing and moved onto the next one.
I have also been working on a few other side projects. It can often be quite rewarding to have tasks like this when I need to take a break from writing. Speaking of which, I went to a workshop on thesis writing workshop earlier this month. I found it pretty overwhelming because it made me realise how complicated and all the little things that I need to consider during write up.
In other news, I managed to finish my conference blog from Hong Kong. Overall, it has been a pretty stressful but productive month. I have realised that there’s so much left that needs to be done, so I am trying to pace myself as much as I can and priortise what needs to be done first.
I travelled with Qantas and caught a morning flight from Sydney. I could feel the humidity as soon as I stepped out of the airport. I met up with a friend and we caught an urban taxi to our apartment. We had booked our apartment in Glenealy through TripAdvisor. This was our first time booking trying TripAdvisor as I have always gone with Airbnb in the past.
It took quite a bit of effort to find our apartment (without Wi-Fi) and get our luggage up through the different style of lifts (lifts are much smaller and have an extra gate). It was 8pm by the time we arrived at our apartment, so we headed straight for dinner. It was really nice to go out but I also found it challenging to walk on the streets as it was very busy (it was a Friday night). We wandered around for some time and came across a nice Thai place. I found the weather to be very humid so opted for a cool salad. It was refreshing to have a coconut drink which kind of reminded me of Fiji. We went for a walk after dinner to get groceries. We bought a few things for breakfast from M&S and came home. It was finally time to take a much needed shower and sleep!
We started off our day at Hong Kong Botanical and Zoological Gardens which was closest to us. Here, we got the chance to see Bornean Orang-utans, Buff-cheeked Gibbons, Emperor Tamarins, Golden-headed Lion Tamarin, De Brazzia’s Monkey, Red-Crowned Crane and common squirrel monkey. I still remember how sad the Orang-utan looked. While it was nice to see some of these exotic species, it sometimes makes me sad when I think about the captive state they are in. We were sweating by the end of our walk and needed to go find some shops to cool down. We spent some time in Marks and Spencer and wanted to get a drink from a café. Eventually, we came across a nice hipster café and cooled down with a vegetable juice. After this, we spontaneously visited Jamia Mosque, Man Mo Temple and local markets. We were struggling with the humidity and needed to take another break.
We headed back to our apartment with some fresh lychees from the local markets. We had plans to have lunch at Tim Ho Wan; the closest one to us was located in IFC Mall. We made multiple attempts to find the restaurant and decided to give up after a while. We were starving by then so we just settled for Pret a Manager. The rooftop garden view here was pretty amazing and made up for the time we lost looking for Tim Ho Wan. We then went on the star Ferry to the other side of the island. We explored shops, Kowloon Park and watched the sunset from Kowloon Bay. We headed back to HK Central for dinner but found it really difficult to settle down for a restaurant. We ended up going to Big Sur which to our surprise, turned out lovely. We grabbed some food from Marks and Spencer and headed home.
We left home around 9:30am but I had to come back because I was feeling lightheaded. At first, I thought it would go away once I walked outside in the fresh air. But I soon started having really awful cramps and felt like I was close to passing out. Thankfully, one of my friends came to the rescue with some electrolytes. Initially I wasn’t sure why I got sick but then it all made sense once I factored in the dehydration from yesterday. We had walked way more than usual and I didn’t hydrate myself enough at night after I returned home. The symptoms were confusing at first, the cramps hung around all day. I assumed it was food poisoning because we had eaten at a small market place yesterday (in Kowloon). However, I later realised that it was due to heat exhaustion. I spent all day in bed and tried to nap with the belief that sleeping it off will make it better. I was so cooped up in my room and didn’t even step out to eat because of the nausea. Eventually, I felt well enough to be up and managed to go out for dinner. We went to Tasty Congee & Noodle Wantun Soup as it was recommended to us by our host. I decided congee here for the first time and loved it (was basically like a savoury porridge). We walked around the roof top garden at IFC afterwards and watched a mini lightshow at 9pm. The view from here was just as amazing at night.
Today was the first day of the conference. The ISBNPA conference was held in Wan Chai which was a 25 minute walk from our apartment. I presented my PhD research which was really exciting because the audience was larger than usual presentation. My favourite session from today was on reshaping food systems for health. It presented some major challenges that our food systems are currently facing (overweight/ obesity, diabetes, food insecurity, micronutrient deficiency) and made me realise the power of food because of the economic opportunities it provides while nurturing communities. It also got me thinking about how food can be leveraged for health. In the evening, I went on an antique tram tour for a conference networking session. The tram itself lasted around two hours but we also needed to catch a shuttle bus to and from the tram shed. It was really nice to network with fellow researchers and see the different parts of the city at night. I caught a taxi back and made it home just before 10pm.
We woke up super early because we wanted to go up to see The Peak before the conference started. We realised that early morning was our best shot because we heard about how busy the lines can be during the day. The view at The Peak was absolutely breathtaking; it was definitely one of my favourites. I would have loved to hike it up here if I had more time (only takes around 45 mins). It was another great day at the conference; I presented another poster and attended some great sessions. After the conference, we went to Hong Kong Park on our way back. It was nice to take a detour and enjoy the afternoon walk. When we returned to our apartment, we learnt about the level one warning for typhoon and felt puzzled because we weren’t sure what it meant. For dinner, I met up with my old mates who now live in Hong Kong. They took me a very hipster café. It was nice to catch up and hear about how the dietetic profession is different on this side of the world. Before heading home, I had a go at one of the traditional HK desserts which was pretty interesting.
We started off our morning at Grassroots Pantry for breakfast. I fell in love with this plant-based café the first time I saw it, and the food did not disappoint either. Unfortunately, the rain had started by then so we found it really difficult to find a taxi after we checked out of our apartment. We made it to the conference by morning tea. After the conference, we went to Goods of Desire for shopping and finally got ourselves an egg tart from Paper Stone Bakery. We caught the ferry to TST despite the bad weather and checked into Hotel Icon. Our room had a harbour view, it wasn’t the best view but still so much nicer than our apartment. It was so nice to be able to relax, so glad we decided to splurge after reading Heidi’s blog. As we were exploring the rooftop pool, we also visited the hotel restaurant on our way. To our surprise, they were able to book us in for a window table. It was fancy to be dining with a view, for change. We ordered two dishes that were of canton origin (was our most expensive dinner in HK). We were very tired by the time we returned to our room and fell asleep soon after.
Today was our last day in Hong Kong. I woke up feeling confused because the time showed to be 9am. We had been waking up early every single day so this was very late. I honestly couldn’t believe that we slept so much but obviously, our bodies needed the sleep. I woke up feeling very refreshed. We took our time getting ready while sipping coffee and munching on M&Ms from our mini bar. We then stored our bags and checked out of our hotel. We still had some exploring to do on this side of the island! We went to a tiny hipster café called N1 and worked out a plan for the day as we did not have much time left. We wanted to as much sightseeing as possible, as well as try some local foods and I also needed to purchase some souvenirs. We stopped at a few bakeries where I purchased some souvenirs and tried local items (pineapple cake from Hang Heung bakery; red tea walnut bread from A1 bakery). We had also looked up a place (Hoover Cake shop) that’s supposed to have the best egg tart in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, it took us a while to find it because we could not read the shop name and kept going past it. I tried a pineapple and peanut bun and the famous egg tart here. We found it difficult to communicate here because no one spoke English at this bakery. We walked through Flower city market which was a wonderful experience. We went to Kowloon City Walled Park after this. This park was like no other, it was so tranquil. We sat down and enjoyed our baked goods we had bought. We realised we had walked way too far from our hotel and decided to catch a cab back to our hotel. From there, it was another taxi ride to the airport. I ate my last egg tart and picked up some souvenirs in attempt to bring a piece of Hong Kong back with me.
Advice for future travellers
Be wary of hill and uneven surfaces – flat shoes are a must! I didn’t realise this until I landed but luckily the shoes I had packed were super comfortable. I would definitely recommend hiking- the mountain views are pretty amazing (The Peak was my fav).
Carry cash when possible. Hong Kong was just as expensive as Sydney (if not more). Most places will accept card but some of the smaller/ local shops may not, so best to carry cash.
Be wary if you are buying things at local markets. The prices can vary a lot depending on where you go. It is possible to bargain at some places but I didn’t even try because I am so bad at haggling!
We chose to walk to most places (when possible) but the transport here was pretty convenient. Taxi is another great option and worked out to be much cheaper than Sydney.
Make sure to visit the local bakeries, literally every single bakery is amazing! I would’ve loved to have tried out more foods, egg tarts were my favourite.
My month started off with ISBNPA conference which was held in Hong Kong this year. This was my second time attending this conference (after Victoria, Canada last year). I really enjoyed the conference as it is closely related to my PhD topic. I also had a chance to explore Hong Kong. It was nice to get away from the cold and take a mini break (click here to read the blog).
In terms of PhD work, I had a super productive month. I was bogged down writing a really big ethics application which will form the last section of my PhD. When I started, it seemed like an impossible task because I hadn’t done anything this big before. It took some time to come together, with the help of my supervisor and PhD colleagues. Honestly, I am so grateful to all the people that supported me, because I couldn’t have done it all on my own.
In other news, I’ve joined as a DAA Media Spokesperson this month. I had applied for this role back in April after learning that a position had become available in NSW. I started writing for the media last year and I knew it’d be the perfect opportunity to hone my media skills. I was so thrilled when I heard the good news, it literally made my week and was probably my highlight from this month!
On a personal note, I’ve had some past issues resurface this month. It has been tough and it has been giving me major anxiety at times. But I’ve mostly been trying to focus on the positives and reminding myself of the great things that happened this month. I’m going to keep my focus on the sunny side, just like my eggs!
Last month, I attended the DAA conference in Sydney. This was my third DAA conference after becoming a dietitian. Previous conferences in Melbourne and Hobart presented great travel opportunities. But I had a lot going on leading up to this conference (preparing for my oral presentation and another upcoming international conference) so I was kind of relieved that I wouldn’t have to travel anywhere.
Asking the BIG questions “How can we be the change we want to see in the world?”
The theme for this year’s conference was #ThinkBig. The conference started with motivational speaker Jeremy Meltzer who spoke about business as a force for good and millennial power. This was one of my favourite sessions as it really got me thinking big picture.
“Women entrepreneurs and business leaders are the fastest-growing economic force in the world”-Muhtar Kent (CEO, Coca Cola). Women are the greatest drivers of economic growth this century.
We also learnt about new terms like ‘nutribollox’ which describes the utter rubbish we are exposed to on social media. Another interesting one was ‘nutribabble’ which is not absolute rubbish but it is information that conflicts (like a popular women’s magazine).
Why do we so readily reject expert advice? One reason: as humans, we favour information that confirms our pre-existing ideas.
On Friday, I attended a breakfast seminar which was hosted by Australian Eggs presenting some latest research. A few people asked me about this on Instagram already, so I thought I’d put in a summary here as well:
Eggs are an economical, nutrient rich food and contain 11 of the essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, E and B12, as well as antioxidants, choline and lutein. The advice in Australia has been to consume up to 6 eggs per week. However, recommendations around the world have been much higher.
The latest Australian study (DIABEGG) looked at the of high-egg diet on cardiovascular risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes. It was a randomised controlled trial. This essentially meant that people either got a high egg diet OR low egg diet. The main findings from the study was no change in cardiovascular risk factors when compared between the two groups. They looked at a range of measures which included blood pressure, pulse, body fat, weight, total body fat and waist, total cholesterol, triglyceride, LDL (bad cholesterol), HDL (good cholesterol) and novel markers to measure vascular and systemic inflammation.
So, what does this mean? This means it may be safe to include eggs in your diet more regularly (even if you are at risk of type 2 diabetes or have type two diabetes). “A healthy diet based on population guidelines and including more eggs than currently recommended by some countries may be safely consumed.” Click here if you want to know more about the published research.
Food fairness everyone’s business especially if we are going to feed 9 billion people by 2042. All stakeholders need to be involved and engaged. It’s time to advocate for change! Most would not think of food security in the modern age of social media where we see so much food porn and endless brunch posts when we are scrolling
On the last day, we had workshops on food security/ hidden hunger which was quite insightful. We are so caught up in the social media world with brunch porn and decadent desserts, we often forget how common food security can be. The plenary session ended with a great debate on the weighty issue which questioned whether BMI should be regularly used to assess obese patients.
BMI is a real issue but not the only issue. But it should not be reflective as a single measure of total health. Focusing on diet quality may be better for improving health and well-being rather than talking only about weight.
#DAA2018 has been my favourite DAA conference I have been to thus far. Happy to say, it sparked some really big ideas in me. #DAA2018 has gotten me to think bigger than ever before! Now I’ve got a million dreams that are keeping me awake! It has helped me realise that I need to work on rebranding my account and aligning my passion/ personal interests closer to my professional work.
My favourite sessions included the motivational talk by Jeremy Meltzer, workshops on engaging for success and creating your dream career. The latter workshop focused on branding and becoming an entrepreneur which was highly valuable. It all got me thinking about making changes in my personal and professional life so it aligns better with my passion.
While there is an endless amount of ‘nutribollox’ out there, it’s also an exciting time to be involved. Our profession is not headed in one direction, it’s headed in multiple directions. There is a lot going on which can be puzzling but we now have an international audience.
Here are my top 5 learnings:
We as dietitians need to connect over food and look out for each other (rather than competing). We really need to support the work that other dietitians are doing.
We have lost the enjoyment with food. We need to take your weight-centric glasses off! We should focus on improving diet quality and having a healthy relationship with food (rather than weight per se).
Despite having the expertise in food and nutrition, we must say we “don’t have all the answers”. We must stop saying sorry for changing diet advice. When the evidence changes, we should not be sorry and stand firm on evidence-based practice.
As dietitians, we have a lot of compassion in our profession already which is great! But we need to work on empathy- we should focus on how patients want to be treated rather than how we want to treat them.
Last but certainly not least, we must have courage, an evidence-based opinion and bring out our passion in everything we do!
Thanks for reading! Check out my Twitter if you’d like to see more conference updates from #DAA2018 🙂
It has been a rather strange month. At times, it felt like everything was in my favour while at other times, it felt like an absolute chaos. But happy to say, I am mostly starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. But there are times when I have been hung up on how things used to be and I am trying my best to get past this phase. I’m just taking it one day at a time and waiting on a number of different things to unfold in my life. Despite the uncertainty, everything feels like a miracle after having a recent disruptive change in my life. It almost reminds me of Albert Einstein’s famous quote, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.” I have always believed in miracles and I think they’re great because it gives you hope to go on under any circumstances.
In terms of my PhD, I spent this month preparing for my oral presentation, creating my posters for my next conference, finalising work on a student project, writing up a survey paper and planning the last chapter of my PhD. I attended the DAA conference which was held in Sydney (blog coming up soon). The conference was so insightful and probably was my favourite DAA conference out of the three I have been to. It’s only early days but I’ve been super pumped after the conference. I feel like I have now discovered a purpose and now I somehow just need to connect the dots between my core values and my love for dietetics. I haven’t figured it out all yet but definitely feeling more optimistic about everything.
In other news, I finally managed to finish my London blog after almost 3 months. It honestly feels like a huge accomplishment because I haven’t been able to blog at all and it felt like everything had come to a roadblock. I am spending more time in the social media space and working on planning some new content.
I flew over to London to attend the 4th CBC Digital Health Conference (Behaviour Change for Health: Digital and Beyond) at UCL. I was very keen on this one as I’ve heard lots of great things about this conference from other people in my research group. I also had an oral presentation presenting a section of my PhD research which was super exciting!
My friend and I spent quite a bit of time planning our trip when we went to Canada last year. However, this time, I asked a few of my friends for recommendations which gave us plenty of places to cover. We basically winged it on the spot. Well, technically we planned it the night before. I think it worked well in London because the Tube is so well connected and everything was pretty close (relative to Sydney).
We chose to stay at The Academy because it was located really close to the conference venue. It was listed as one of the top 10 character hotels. The hotel is from the Georgian period and felt very British/ old school, as you would expect. The room felt pretty congested at first but I reminded myself that that this was one of the bigger rooms I had shortlisted!
We were feeling very tired after getting out of the plane after almost 24 hours. It felt pretty awful at first but I soon recovered after I started walking. We caught the underground tube to our stop Russell Square which took almost one hour. Initially, the tube was fairly light (got a seat) but it got packed later. We found it hard to get out with luggage and almost missed our stop! The walk to our hotel was a short one and we settled down in our room which felt rather small at first. We went out for a late lunch/ early dinner to Thai Bushaba Restaurant. We went for a brief walk after dinner and settled for an early night.
We woke up super early and were out of the hotel by 7:30am. We looked up a breakfast place in Bloomsbury on Tripadvisor and arrived at Salt & Pepper. We were very hungry and we found their breakfast to be very satisfying. We walked to Madame Tussauds from here which took about 30 minutes. We arrived there before it opened so we decided to take a detour to Sherlock Holmes Museum. Exploring both museums took a long time; especially Madame Tussauds which involved taking a gazillion photos with the celebrities! Our phone batteries were exhausted and we needed to head home soon. We had lunch on the way at You me sushi which claimed to have the best chicken katsu in London. We headed home, rested and went to dinner at Mondello Italian restaurant. We headed for an early night again and was in bed by 10pm.
We were slower getting out this morning and left home around 8:30am. We caught a tube to Westminister and ate breakfast at The Red Lion. We had learnt about Big Ben undergoing scaffolding last night but we didn’t think it would be fully covered! We visited Westminster Abbey after this and took the self-guided tour. I really enjoyed learning about the tombs, monuments and seeing some of the finest architectures that goes back as early as 1200’s.
We visited London Eye after this which was a nice way to transition into the modern world. London Eye sits in the heart of London, opposite the Houses of Parliament on South Bank. I loved the views from here although I am sure it would have looked even better on a sunny day. We had lunch at Bao Garden which was the first Chinese restaurant in London. We visited Tower Bridge after lunch which was another walk through history. We both fell asleep around 7ish after heading back. It was supposed to be a nap but we found ourselves waking up 11:30pm and going without dinner!
Today was conference day. I was very excited for this conference as I had heard a lot of great things from my research group. Thankfully, we were only two minutes away from the conference which gave us the luxury to go out for breakfast at Le Pain Quodien. The baked eggs with salmon were delicious. My day was very well spent at the conference while my partner explored British Museum. We went to a Turkish restaurant near our hotel which exceeded our expectations. It was a really nice experience as I am not very familiar with Turkish cuisine (other than pide). I didn’t have much veggies at the conference so I chose to go with a vegetarian dish (loved the spinach).
Today was my presentation day and also the last day of the conference. I left feeling so inspired and a little sad because it had come to an end. But it was exciting at the same time, we still had a few things we wanted to tick off before we left for Sydney. We went to Pataya Thai to catch up with a cousin who I hadn’t seen in quite some time. We absolutely loved the night vibes at Oxford Circus because it was something we hadn’t quite experienced yet in London (thanks to our jet lag and falling asleep early).
Today was our second last day in London. We started our day at Dishoom for breakfast as we heard great recommendations on the egg naan roll. I am not a huge fan of most Indian foods but the egg naan roll here was absolutely amazing. It was nothing like I had tasted before! We then caught a tube to Buckingham Palace. We were there quite early which left us enough time to explore Green Park. The changing of the guards happen at a certain time but you really need to arrive early to get a good spot. Unfortunately, it was very cold that day. It was between 1-3 degrees and we were both freezing. We ended up with a semi-good spot and still had around half an hour to kill. The wait was excruciating because it was too cold to take my gloves and use my phone (we had to grab coffee to warm up after this).
We visited Tower of London next. I absolutely loved because it was almost like I had a ticket to visit the past! We took our time absorbing moments from history. However, we were starving when we finally finished! It was around 3:30pm and we needed to find food ASAP. We came across Wakanama which provided much comfort food and warmth (we had ramen and udon soup). For dinner, we had plans to go to Ottolengthi as it was recommended by a friend. However, we were a little disappointed with our order and had to leave already (there was a booking after ours). We explored more of Oxford Circus and grabbed another light meal at Wasabi before heading home. We got home just before 10pm. We were exhausted as we are normally in bed by this hour.
We had breakfast at Dishoom again because both of us had fallen in love with the egg naan roll. Today was our last chance to tick off some places before we hopped on the plane at night. Our list included Covent Garden, Hyde Park, Primrose Hill, Notting Hill, St Paul’s Cathedral, Covent Garden was a great place to hang for entertainment because there’s always someone to look at or listen to (in addition to shops). We walked around Hyde Park and decided to have lunch at Soho at Wildwood café. After lunch, we went over to the British Museum which was the last thing on my list (was recommended by many). Seeing British Museum was an eye-opening experience for me. It is the oldest museum in the world and I was amazed at their rich collection of treasures and artefacts from almost every corner of the globe. The Egyptian section was my favourite as it is one that I have loved since I was young.
The perks of jet lag and sleeping early helped us wake up early every single day. While it meant that we couldn’t have much of a night life, we still managed to see quite a lot in the short time. London is definitely a place I’d love to come back and visit again. To be honest, I don’t know when I will be back but here’s a list for next time, just in case I forget!
Within London (Primrose hill, Camden markets, Notting Hill, Kensington gardens, St James Park, Shoreditch and Sky Garden)
Outside of London (i.e. Scotland, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Oxford, Newcastle)
Other places in Europe (mainly Santorini, Switzerland, Paris and Italy)
I’m not even sure how to begin. The word ‘anxious’ barely covers the emotions I have felt this month. April has always been a happy period in my life as my birthday falls on this month. In my last post, I felt like things were finally looking up in my life. I could have never guessed that the glimpse of sunshine would move out so drastically and be replaced by pitch darkness.
A part of me wasn’t even sure how to write this out. But I felt the need to write something because I often find it therapeutic to write in times of stress. Moreover, I felt it was important to document my PhD journey despite the recent changes in my personal situation. I’ve had to take some time off to attend a family emergency. It has been really tough because family has always been my number one.
For the first week, I had to disconnect from everything in order to cope. I am a huge task planner so I felt very miserable when I didn’t know what was going to happen tomorrow or the day after. All my plans had become non-existent. Then I realised that I needed to pick up things from where I left off. I knew that I wasn’t going to make great progress because I’m not in the same mindset I used to be. But I knew that I am better off making an attempt rather than not trying at all. To be honest, I am still struggling but I am trying to normalise my routine to what it used to be. I have started to work flexible hours, communicate with others and appear somewhat active on social media.
In other news, I’ve had my ‘gestation paper‘ accepted for publication. It was probably my happiest moment from April that came out of my PhD. But I’ve also had a paper rejected which probably makes it even. My current priorities include screening for a review and preparing for upcoming conference presentations. Of course, there’s so much more that needs to be done but I am taking it one step at a time.
Overall, this month has been incredibly challenging and emotionally exhausting. There were times when I completely broke down and other times when I did my best to remain strong. I have come to learn just how unpredictable life can be, the hard way. So, I am doing my best to be grateful for the present and for the little things in life.
I honestly cannot believe how fast the year is flying away! March didn’t start off all that great for me. I started on a brand new project, so there were some initial challenges. Thankfully, I was able to resolve them within a couple of days. I was also working on putting a summary of my conference learning. I find it really inspiring to attend conferences as it helps me think about the big picture (I sometimes get too bogged down with the smaller details).
Other major tasks this month included two paper revisions. I am back to do doing some teaching and supervising an interesting project (the semester started earlier this month). It is hard to juggle at times, but I still find it to be very rewarding and fun!
In other news, I am also working on creating some content for my blog. However, progress has been slow because most of the time I am in the ‘blog planning’ phase and struggle to find the time to put my plans into action. Happy to say, I am working on ways to manage my time better, so hopefully there will be more content coming up soon.
There were a few personal struggles too (was sick for a couple of days and dealing with an ongoing internal conflict which has been going on for longer than it should). But I know that it’s probably not going to stop until I get things off my chest. I know that won’t be happening anytime soon, so I decided to start a gratitude journal this month. I tried the #30daysofthankfulness challenge on Instagram last year, and I have been thinking about making it a regular thing since then. It has only been three weeks, but I like it so far.
Overall, it has been a pretty good month. I was able to tick off a few things off my list, so I feel like things are finally starting to look up, yay!
I spent the first week of January holidaying in Fiji and taking a break has sort of helped me get a fresh start. The good news is that I finally had a pretty productive and positive month! A few people had expressed their concerns about the way I had been naming my blog posts towards the end of last year. Yes, I have had some pretty dark times. But I am finally starting to see the light at the end of a tunnel.
I’ve finally submitted my ‘gestation paper’ after almost 1.5 years. I started this paper towards the end of my first year and been carrying it since like a baby. While I know that it still has a long way to go until it goes out to the world, it was nice to get it out of my hands (for now at least). I’ve also been busy writing up a new ethics application which is one of those things that always takes much longer than you anticipate. But I am pretty happy with how things are coming along so far.
In other news, I have been focusing on lots of self-care routines this month. Some of you would know that 2017 has been a very overwhelming year for me. It was crazy and hectic; I can’t remember a time or month when I wasn’t out of my comfort zone. There were so many ups and downs in the same week or sometimes, even on the same day. I’ve tried my very best to keep my focus on the sunny side, but it hasn’t always been that easy. Nonetheless, I’d like to think that I am stronger and in a better space now. But one of the things I realised in 2017 is that I have been a ‘people pleaser’ more often than I should be. So, my goal for this year is to show more of the real me, engage in regular self-care and posting more blogs! Let’s do this 😀
I decided to push myself to the max this month and was trying harder than ever to finish my two papers. I was spending most of my time working on revisions and was feeling hopeful that I’d be able to submit before Christmas. It was coming along pretty well until I hit mid-December when I realised it wasn’t going to happen like I had planned. This meant that I wouldn’t be able to submit anything until next year. I felt quite demoralised after this point; it felt like none of my goals will get accomplished. But I told myself that every delay happens for a reason.
I tried to finish up other pending tasks but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to tick off all that I had on my list. Again, I was a bit disappointed initially but I have decided to remind myself that it is okay. I have done the best I can and they will eventually be finished. No one really looks at anything over Christmas, anyway!
Saying goodbye to my desk for the year was bittersweet because I hadn’t accomplished what I wanted to. But I told myself, it’s okay, because there’s always next year, right?
In other news, I completed a teaching course this month which was an eye opening experience for me. I’m not sure if I will end up taking up teaching, but it was interesting to learn about it from a student perspective. The other good news that made my month was hearing back from a conference that I had put in my abstract for and really wanted to attend!
This month has been a relatively terrifying month for me. I thought I was getting close to settling down but it ended up being quite the opposite. To be honest, a part of me was very reluctant to write about that other fragile side here. I usually try not to bring up personal sides in these monthly posts because I want them to be purely about the progression of my PhD. But my emotional health has not been at its best this month. Safe to say, I am in a slightly better space right now, but I am well aware that this is temporary and it may just hit again. But unfortunately, there isn’t much I can do now other than waiting for the right time and hope for the best!
Whoops, that ended up sounding mushier than I intended, but I am kind of glad I got that out of the way. Now let’s move onto the more exciting parts of my life, shall we? I have been really trying to push myself with my current tasks because I really need to pick up my game. I have set myself a few targets that I want to achieve before the year ends. I am working on a few different papers right now which is really exciting because I have never worked on so many at any one time. But it can sometimes be hard to juggle!
Overall, this month has been very rocky but one of the things I really enjoyed was the #30daysofthankfulness challenge on Instagram. It kind of forced me to be thankful about something every single day. It was challenging on some days but it made me realise that we often get so caught up in our own tangles, we forget to cherish the blessings we do have in our life. You can read more about it from my Instagram.
Finally, here are my November eats from this month 🙂
I have literally a million things on my mind. I almost feel like I will never be able to reach a level where I am happy with the amount of work I am doing and not feel like I am behind! I am trying to get things done one at a time. I really hope it calms down for me soon. It is so hectic right now and it’s probably because I want to do a bit of everything.
I am working on a few different things right now which includes paper writing, finalising statistical analyses and recruitment for focus groups. Stats has probably been the hardest out of these because I tend to forget the steps once I switch to a different task. Recruitment has also been challenging because getting a bunch of humans to arrive at the same time is hard work!
On the bright side, I managed to finish a draft of one of my papers. That’s probably the only milestone from this month, other than additional lecturing opportunities. We celebrated 50 years of dietetics in Sydney which was an exciting event. It was so nice to be able to attend this event and learn about some of the pioneers in nutrition and their stories. It also made me realise just how far our profession has come in 50 years!
This month has been pretty intense. I set myself a large number of goals, both professional and personal. I probably made more progress on my professional ones which is still a good thing. My tasks this month included preparing two posters for a symposium and an international conference. I love making posters, but they can be so fiddly and always end up taking way longer than I plan. Unfortunately, I could only present one in person as the other one was in Argentina.
In other news, I have been working on redoing some stats analyses and have also started recruiting for next round of focus groups. The other important milestone from this month was delivering my first ever lecture. I had to step in to cover for someone so I only learnt about it last minute. I was pretty comfortable in a tutorial setting but preparing for a lecture took a lot of effort and I ended up spending an entire weekend reading. Happy to say though, it ended up being a great experience. I am glad I took up the opportunity.
Overall, it has been a very busy month, filled with some new milestones. Unfortunately, new responsibilities come with longer hours. It has left me feeling a little burnt out and has severely hindered my PhD progress and work-life balance. But let’s hope I can adjust and things will settle down soon!
I got very sick two days before my flight so I was feeling rather cynical during the flight. Part of me was wishing I didn’t have to go; I just wanted to be in my bed. But seeing this amazing view as we descend made me pretty excited again. I told myself I will do everything I can to speed up my recovery and enjoy my time here.
We dropped off our luggage at our accommodation (Airbnb). We were feeling very hungry as it was almost 3pm. We ate at Brook St Pier and absolutely loved our lunch with a view. I loved the abundance of mushrooms in my dish!
We walked around the harbour to soak up more views; we all know that first day views are always the best!
We bought some groceries to make dinner and headed home early as it was getting very cold. Luckily, our cute cottage had a fireplace and one of my friends knew how to light a fire. While I tried to rest and keep warm, my girls made the most delicious pumpkin, red lentil and soup. It was one of the best I ever had and just what I needed for my throat!
Initially, we had planned to go to Wineglass Bay which is a long drive from Hobart. However, we decided not go as it would be too hectic to drive for 6 hours on the same day. Our plan B was to catch a cruise but we realised it would be super windy and might make our health worse. This also did not work out as none of us were feeling very well this morning so started our day quite late which left us enough time to have lunch and only see one place. We only had time for brunch and see either Richmond or mount Wellington.
I’m so glad we chose to go with Mount Wellington. The view was absolutely spectacular, so breathtaking! We were freezing- it was about to 6 degrees but the chill felt like 2 degrees (according to our phones).
I had my presentation the next day so I decided I needed to rest my body and stayed indoors that night. I drank lots of soup and tea with lemon and ginger and hoped for an overnight miracle recovery!
Today was the first day of conference and I presented my first ever oral at DAA. To be honest, it wasn’t quite how I imagined it to be. I would’ve liked to have a healthier voice to speak, but at the same time, we can only control so much, right?
On a brighter note, I managed to get through 15 mins without having a cough attack 😛
We felt very tired after a long day at the conference. We went home and had soup + roast chicken. One of my girls had her 25th birthday today. Unfortunately, all of us in the house had a rough start to our day so wasn’t able to do anything during the day. But as we all know that birthdays must end with cake, one of my other friends was able to find this beautiful Belgian chocolate and salted caramel roulade from one of the top patisseries in Hobart. It was very rich but deeply satisfying!
Since my sickness didn’t improve yesterday, I had almost given up. We had our workshop today in the afternoon and I feel like I could have done a better job. I was feeling a bit disappointed with myself but I realised, I should stop beating myself up over it. This is not the end of presentations, there will be many more to come. So it is completely okay if one does not go as planned. We finished a little early and hit the shops. We were walking into town to find a place for dinner and came across the cutest welcome message!
We lookedhard to find a nice place for dinner- this was supposed to be our big celebratory night so we wanted it to be something all of us would enjoy. I had planned to eat some Tasmanian salmon tonight but the sicker me ended up going with risotto when I saw it on the menu. I’m so obsessed with risotto, especially when I am sick. I must find it easy to go down. I’m so glad I did though because it was one of the best I’ve ever had, filled with a decent amount of eggplant, spinach and mushrooms (my favourite).
We came home and had some leftover cake from the previous night. Ending our last night with chocolate made it even more perfect 😉
Our checkout time was around midday so we needed to pack before we left. I always underestimate how long packing takes me. I thought there wouldn’t be much to pack as we had not purchased anything to take home at this point.
The weather was pretty spectacular today, didn’t have to wear my beanie and gloves for the first time!
After the conference was over, we went straight to Salamanca Markets. I had heard about this market from a few people, so was very excited to see an open-style market. Unfortunately, I could not purchase my souvenirs here as there were too many stalls, I found it hard to pick! Also, because some shops did not take card (tip for future self would be to carry cash to places like this!)
For lunch, we decided to try our luck at the famous café we had planned to come two days ago. Luckily, it was a short walk from the markets. Their menu was outstanding- I couldn’t decide what I wanted to eat. In the end, I decided to go with a dish that had salmon so I can get it off my list. This was one of the places on my bucket list and having salmon here just made it even better. I felt very satisfied after finally getting some Tasmanian salmon in my belly. For anyone who’s in Hobart, I highly recommend you visit this place- they have awesome savoury and sweets! You will not be disappointed 🙂
To make up for my lack of souvenirs, I shopped at the airport before I hopped on to the plane.
Overall, the last couple of days have been so incredible and has gone by so quick! I’m honestly so grateful for all the wonderful experiences I’m getting from my PhD journey. I always find conferences to be so great because it opens my mind and helps me put my work in perspective. Now it’s time to go back to work and THINK BIG for Sydney. I’ve always been and will be a Sydney girl, so can’t wait to showcase our city to the rest of the dietitians around the country 🙂
As for Tassie, I know my adventures here aren’t over yet, in fact this is just the beginning! I’d love to come back someday and explore more because this trip has made me realise how much there is to see in this beautiful land.
Travel month: May
Where we stayed: with Airbnb on Barrack Street (historical workers’ cottage)
I’ve made some dramatic changes to my sleep habits this month. I was struggling to get enough work done after returning from Canada. I knew this was partly because I had set myself way too many goals and some things did not go as I had planned. I was struggling with the cold last month so I decided to make a fresh start. I told myself that ‘I was not cold’ and ‘I can do this’. I knew I needed to make some changes in my day for this to happen. I have always secretly wanted to be morning person. But the truth is, I love my sleep way too much so I have struggled in the past. I decided to have another go and I started a new routine to get to work by 8am. I started drinking coffee regularly for the first time in my life and happy to say, my early routine lasted the whole month. Making a change to my routine and adding coffee to my list seemed to boost my productivity levels! #winning
For the first two weeks, I was also able to finish already which kept me super motivated (as it meant getting a glimpse of sunshine as I was getting home). However, the work hours got longer after I started teaching. The combination of an additional teaching load and a pending ethics application pushed my hours so long that I barely got to see daylight.
In other news, I have started working on a very special project this month. I have wanted to do this for a very long time but I wasn’t sure where to start. I’m so glad that I have finally made a start. I know it still needs a lot of work before I can reveal what it is. Can’t wait to share soon 🙂
July has been a very rough month for me; anyone that has watched me closely would have noticed a difference. Coming back from Canada, I set myself a million goals this month.
Perhaps, I had set myself way too many?
Perhaps, I wasn’t productive enough?
Perhaps, I could’ve done better?
These are thoughts that haunted my brain almost every single day last month. What I failed to recognise at the time was that I was having a ‘mid-PhD crisis’. July was the official half-way mark for me; I honestly cannot believe it has been 18 months! I knew that feeling the mid-PhD blues was a thing because I had read about it here a long time ago; but I just didn’t realise I was having the symptoms, until recently.
I also ran into a major statistics problem which has taken me a long time to figure out. It wasn’t that I didn’t try. I was trying to recover from the situation I was in, but I was feeling quite unmotivated. On top of that, I was under the weather for a couple of days which added to my misery. I felt cold, sleepy and lacked energy more often than usual. I started wondering if it was due to SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) AKA the ‘winter blues’. I could see that my drop in productivity levels was starting to take a toll on my health. I knew I needed to push through and just keep swimming, so that’s what I tried doing. Happy to say, I have somehow recovered from my ‘mid-PhD crisis’ and was able to change my mindset! But I don’t want to talk about this just yet as I feel it is still early days. I am certainly not where I want to be, but I am in a much happier space, will reveal more on my next post 🙂
In other news, I’m still cooking lots of soup due to the cold. But I’ve tried a few different things this month to help me uplift my spirits! Here are my July eats:
Apple and cinnamon porridge, topped with walnuts and almonds
Morning toast with homemade ricotta, banana and chia seeds
Green, yellow split lentil cauliflower and carrot soup, with leftover lamb
Homemade ricotta, walnut and pear toast
Avo on toast with pepper, chilli, lemon
Linguini with avocado, pesto, pea and parmesan
Banana, walnut and chia seed porridge
Big batch of mixed lentil, celery and carrot soup
Veggie and prawn stir-fry using pretty much everything I had at home (cauliflower, broccoli, beans, carrots and pea)
Roasted Brussel sprouts with EVOO, pepper and chilli
Strawberry, chia seed and peanut butter porridge
Italian soup mix with green beans, carrots and celery
Hoki green curry with green beans
Lentil soup with carrots and beans, topped with leftover roast chicken
Gosh, I honestly don’t know where the month has gone! Yes, I know you’re going to say that I say that literally every month. But I suppose time does fly quicker as you are getting older. Speaking of which, I turned 24 this month. My dad insisted on celebrating, but I think I am just getting to the age where I prefer to keep my birthday a quiet business and hide away. I got spoilt with some great presents and cake, of course! I had a lot of cake this month. I have had a few moments of hibernation this month, it does help with my internal struggle sometimes which is still ongoing, but I’m trying to deal with it in a different way (some of you would probably know about this from my previous monthly blogs).In terms of work, I have been juggling endless things this month. The student projects have been quite time-consuming, particularly because I needed to obtain ethics approval for one of them which needed a lot of work. The good news is that we were recently approved and currently recruiting for our focus groups! I’m also trying to work on my statistics paper, but it has been difficult to switch back and forth with this. I feel like statistics needs a mind of its own and I am still finding it really difficult to juggle it with other things. Unfortunately, I have not made substantial progress with this, really hope things change over the next couple of days.
In other news, I attended FameLab NSW as a semi-finalist (this was the news I mentioned last month). It was very exciting to be chosen for this. We received training for this on the day which made us feel even more underprepared! However, it was such a wonderful evening because I got to meet so many like-minded researchers from many disciplines and we talked about all things science. The presentation itself was very nerve-racking as it was given to a large unknown audience, but it was such a great learning experience. As a result of this, I also had the opportunity to attend two radio interviews with Dr Karl. Meeting this science legend was a very memorable and special experience; he was very supportive and so down-to-Earth. I’m honestly so grateful for the opportunities that I am getting from my PhD journey.
Click here to read about a media piece from this month on ‘The French secret to beating obesity’.
Finally, here are all my April eats 🙂
Curried sweet potato and cashew nut soup (recipe here)
Snapper Saddletail curry with tomato and parsley
Pearl barley and vegetable soup (recipe adapted from here)
Roasted aubergines with yoghurt and mint (recipe adapted from here)
Hearty lentil soup with tomato, carrot and capsicum
Pearl barley, apple and almond bake (recipe adapted from here)