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After five years of living in China, and two years of This Beijing Life, things have changed. I left my job as a college counselor in China, and now I’m living a life on my terms. I’m my own boss, I travel when I want, and live where I want. I’m FINALLY living my dream of location independence.
I hope you’ll all follow me along on my new journey: The Freedom Life.
What I Was Up to in July
This month was a pretty good one in Hoi An! I did a really fun photoshoot in Hoi An’s Old Town and finally launched a Youtube channel! However, it wasn’t perfect. I hurt my back at the gym and was pretty much out of commission for a week. Thankfully a 2.5-hour massage cleared that right up!
Where I Was This Month
In July I spent the entire month in Hoi An, Vietnam!
Overall this was a pretty good month. Here are my favorite moments!
Hoi An Photoshoot!
This month I worked with Jim Grootes from Circular Media to do a photoshoot in Hoi An’s old town! I’ve been wanting to get some fun photos of myself for quite a while, and I’m glad I finally found an amazing photographer to make it happen!
As many of you know, I’ve been working really hard on my health and fitness over the last year, and after all of this hard work, it felt great to reward myself with an empowering photo shoot. I absolutely love the photos, and I can’t wait to start using them on my site and social media.
If any of you are looking for an amazing photographer in Hoi An or Danang, definitely get in touch with Jim at Circular Media. He specializes in weddings, but also does amazing travel photoshoots too!
Before weight lifting
After 1 week of strength training!
Getting into Strength Training
Lately, I’ve been a bit frustrated with my progress eating healthy and exercising. I felt like I was spinning my wheels, working really hard but getting nowhere. I’ve been doing dance workouts every morning from BodyFX which are great and do have strength training incorporated, but 45 minutes 6 days a week is pretty exhausting.
After talking with a few people, I decided to switch things up, get a gym membership and try to do effective weight lifting. In the past, I thought I was doing weightlifting right, but this time I’m tracking my weight, upping it consistently, and pushing to fail.
Immediately after starting to lift weights I noticed a huge change in my weekly photos of myself, and I finally started actually losing weight consistently. I guess my body really likes weights!
I still want to use my dance workouts once or twice a week as some healthy cardio, but for now, I’m really enjoying not having to wake up and do a super intense 45-minute workout every morning.
Speaking About My F-Ups
My coworking space the Hub does a monthly Fuckup Night where one or two speakers talk about their failures. This month I was asked to speak and decided to tell the story of my first year teaching abroad in China, which was kind of a disaster. Thankfully that experience encouraged me to take my blog seriously (because I had nothing better to do in the middle of nowhere), and create a course to help people avoid my mistakes.
I really enjoyed public speaking (even if it was just a small group), and I would definitely love to do it again in the future!
Launching My Youtube Channel!
I FINALLY launched my new Youtube Channel, all about living and working in China! Over the last month, I created three videos (with another one on the way).
While it is another whole thing on my plate, I’ve really been enjoying creating these videos. I actually find speaking to the camera a bit easier than writing, and I’ve definitely got the hang of the editing process by creating my online course.
I definitely plan to use my Youtube channel in conjunction with this site, to reach new people and give you all a new way to consume awesome content and advice about living and working in China!
At the end of the month, Chris and I decided to do a 2.5 hour pampering session at Ma Spa in Hoi An. I had a full-body coffee scrub, an 80-minute hot stone massage, and a 30 minute express facial. It was amazing to finally relax and treat myself, and thankfully the massage really, really helped my lower back (more on that later).
I definitely need to get another one of these before I leave Hoi An at the end of August!
Not everything this month was perfect. Here are a few of the downsides.
Hurting My Back
Just when I started to get into strength training, I really hurt my lower back doing back extensions with weights. While I’m usually pretty careful, I added weight to this move for the first time, and I was in a bit of a rush. While everything felt fine leaving the gym, the next day my back was a complete mess.
For an entire week, I worked from home in bed, but my back just kept getting worse and worse. Not only did it hurt constantly, but I’d also get spasms of pain in one specific spot on the left side of my lower back. I tried everything – yoga stretches, resting, laying in bed with pillows in random comfortable spots… nothing really helped until I got an 80-minute massage that fixed everything!
Feeling Exhausted and Burnt Out
I was feeling super tired from managing work, eating healthy, exercising 45 minutes every morning, and trying to have a social life. At the beginning of July, it just felt like I was treading water or spinning my wheels, going nowhere.
Despite cooking healthy meals and exercising intensely every single morning, I wasn’t losing any weight. Despite working really hard and cranking out blog posts, videos and webinars, I wasn’t making any money. I’m a big fan of working smart, not hard, but for the last few months, it feels like I’m working extremely hard and not really seeing any changes.
Thankfully strength training at least made me feel like I was making progress on the health and fitness front (until I hurt my back), and hopefully, my new Youtube channel will help me find more awesome people for my online course!
Sick Of Cooking in Vietnam
I’ve been trying to be super optimistic about cooking in Hoi An, but to be honest, I’m getting really sick of it. I love all of the fresh fruits and vegetables at the wet market, but I get so annoyed with the lack of a grocery store and quality meat.
I’m honestly so sick of chicken I could never eat it again in my life and I’d be happy. I went to Danang and found some overpriced steaks just to try and get myself out of a chicken rut. I’m also so sick of bell peppers. They seem to be the only vegetable I can buy here that will last longer than a few days. Seriously, every time I buy a carrot, the next day I can literally bend it in half!
I also feel like every time I find something awesome and healthy, the store stops stocking it. For example, there was this awesome healthy peanut butter I used to buy, and now I can’t find it ANYWHERE. I also use frozen strawberries for my smoothies, and they just disappeared in all the stores for 3 weeks. I just miss having consistent, healthy food I can always find and buy in a store without it going bad in 2 days.
Constant Power Cuts
Hoi An has had a bit of a drought this summer, and unfortunately for all of us here, Hoi An’s power relies on hydroelectricity. The rainy season last October-December wasn’t very rainy, and now the water and electricity supply is dangerously low.
While I didn’t have any problems with water cuts (unlike my friend Justine), I did have a bunch of nighttime power cuts. While it doesn’t sound bad, it’s literally 100 degrees outside, and without air conditioning or a fan, it’s BRUTAL. I tried opening the windows in the evening, but it just feels like opening the door to an oven.
I really wish the power cuts were during the day so that I could go to a cafe on the opposite side of town with power (they tend to shut it off in some districts and not others) or head to the beach. But when there’s no power at night you’re just left sweaty and sleep-deprived.
What I Created in July!
This month I wrote a guide to working with recruiters when looking for a job abroad: Do I Need a Recruiter to Teach Abroad in China! I also created three different Youtube videos, as well as a quick introduction video!
New on the Blog:
New on Youtube:
Wow, I was feeling kind of bad about myself only writing two blog posts this month, but once you factor in Youtube, I was pretty busy creating stuff!
For those of you who aren’t big Youtube people, I am actually embedding Youtube videos in related blog posts, so you can always watch Youtube videos on the blog. I may also do it the other way around too. For example, I created the video on recruiters before I wrote the accompanying blog post!
Best Instagram Shots
I’m a huge fan of Huashan and the plank walk near Xi’an China, and apparently, so are all of you!
Two things I love: random fun China photos and leading live online webinar training!
Travel Product I Can’t Live Without: The Aeropress
I LOVE my coffee, but of course, I don’t want to break the bank buying coffee makers every time I move, or ordering coffees out every day. That’s why I’m a huge fan of the Aeropress and it comes with me everywhere. I’ve used this baby in the US, Australia, Tanzania, Vietnam, Thailand and more. I bring it on road trips, visa runs, and weekend getaways, and I literally can’t get enough!
I love the Aeropress because it’s easy to use, super easy to clean, and can fit in my bag without me worrying about smashing it (unlike my poor Vietnamese drip coffee tin set).
However this month our cleaner somehow lost the reusable metal filter to my Aeropress and now I can’t use it anymore!! The paper filters that came with it are in a box in Australia somewhere, and I can’t buy another metal filter here in Vietnam.
So yeah, the free weekly maid that comes with my apartment lost the filter to my travel coffee maker and now I can’t buy a new one because they don’t ship to Vietnam. Can’t figure out if that’s a first or second world problem…
Favorite Travel Outfit
I finally have amazing photos of one of my FAVORITE travel dresses. I grabbed this A Byer red floral dress at Macy’s just over a year ago, and I’m obsessed. I’ll dress it up for date night, or throw it on for a casual stroll around Hoi An’s Old Town. Because this dress is longer, it worked for me in Tanzania, but it’s still breezy enough for the California desert or Vietnam. Plus, this thing looks amazing in photos and on video.
This floral wrap dress is super comfortable and looks great on pretty much every body type. They also have a bunch of other colors to choose from on Amazon!
If you’re looking for something similar for your own travel photos, I really like the look of these:
Best Reads of July
Here are my favorite blog posts from the month of July!
We Need to Stop Telling Women They’ll Get Assaulted if they Travel Solo – Be My Travel Muse (Nomadic Matt)
I completely agree. I’ve had way more uncomfortable and potentially dangerous experiences in the US than I ever have traveling or living abroad.
Visiting the Hutongs in Beijing: The Last Preservation of Old China – Borders of Adventure
I love Beijing’s hutongs, and if you didn’t already know, I lived in the hutongs for over a year! It always makes me happy when other people love them just as much as I do.
That Guy in Rio de Janeiro Who Told Me I Can’t Join the Boys to Play Football – PS I’m On My Way
Such a great story of proving sexism wrong! Who knew Trisha was such a beast at football (soccer)!
What I’m Up to in August!
This August I’ll be filming an episode of House Hunters International!! We’ve got a film crew team coming out to Hoi An to film us. I’m super excited to share how it went, and I’ll be sure to let you all know when the episode is ready!
At the end of August, I’ll also be flying back to Australia for a bit to get ready for my wedding in October! Curious to know more about how wedding planning is going from abroad. Let me know!
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