Becoming Sleek 2016 Year In Review


Becoming Sleek has become (sleek?) a fully fledged planner and stationery blog in 2016, which is just the way I wanted it. It’s time to take a look back at the year that has been.

Monthly Highlights

January saw me acquire my second Zenkraft, snagged during the holiday sale. February continued the acquisition trend, and I finally got my long-awaited pocket TN in my favorite Gav and Sav cat print, and in March I got a Hobonichi branded cover in Framboise Chocolat. April saw me getting my first Hobonichi Weeks which turned out to be my ideal planner. May was very eventful blogwise, for it was then that I got the Midori Camel passport and mini as well as my first Chicsparrow, and I finally finished my blog series on traveler’s notebook features. I went on a beach vacation in June and of course I brought along my planner stuff. More acquisition in July, this time a custom cover for the Weeks by Sunday Leather Craft. August is when I started considerably posting less due to an increased workload, but I was able to talk about a pen loop substitute for planners and journals. In September I was seriously considering which planner system to use for 2017, which I ended up deciding in favor of the Weeks in November when I realized I had achieved planner peace with it. And finally in December, I rounded out a year of acquisitions with my most extravagant purchase of a matched pair of Weeks cover and pocket TN by Jaquie Ang.

Blog Statistics

Overall this is awesome growth for my little planner blog! While the yearly post count is practically the same, I received twice the amount of pageviews both in total and in average per day, all thanks to you my wonderful readers!

What’s Coming in 2017?

2015 has been quite a year of acquisition and the trend sadly continued all throughout 2016, and honestly there are still a few more packages that are coming in from purchases in the last few weeks of the year. I am determined to streamline my collection and keep only those that really makes me happy. One of my goals is to use what I have, not only in terms of traveler’s notebooks but in all things hobby related, so expect more review posts for stationery and a lot of Hobonichi Weeks planner posts.

Sakura Gelly Roll Gel Pens + Blog Update

Let’s start with the important part: these wonderful pens!

Sakura Gelly Rolls are pretty much well known in the pen universe as good, nay, great, gel pens, and I’ve always wanted to try them out. After checking several places, I finally found a Sakura stand at SM Stationery (SM Makati). I helped myself to one of each type of Sakura Gelly Roll available. The best part? Each is just ~Php50 each!

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The pens are all in the same general slim, translucent barrels, with a round-ended cap and the distinctive Gelly Roll branding. The caps vary depending on the pen type. The ones I was able to try are (from top to bottom, above): Classic (in blue), Gold Shadow (in green), Metallic (in gold), and Stardust (in red). The Classic has a matte solid colored cap and nothing on the clip. The Gold Shadow has a sheeny solid cap with gold glittery stars on the clip. The Metallic has gold sparkles on a translucent cap and nothing on the clip. Finally, Stardust has a clear cap with silver sprinkles and a comet stamped on the clip. The butts of the pens also differ: the Classic and the Metallic have colored butts while the Gold Shadow and the Stardust have white/translucent butts.

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The pen tips are all pretty thick, I’d say at 1mm for all except the Classic which comes in 0.5mm. Normally I would shy away from such thick nibs but for such interesting gel pens I’m pretty okay with 1mm.

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How do they write? Pretty smoothly, and glides nicely especially on good quality paper such as the Rhodia lined pad above. The Gold Shadow and the Metallic have shiny sheeny ink, which would go nicely on things like greetings cards and gift tags. The Stardust has silver glitter in the ink and is super pretty as well! The Classic is a great generic gel pen that writes just as smoothly as the rest.

 

The sheen in the three non-Classic Gelly Rolls

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I fell immediately in love with the Metallic the most, and bought myself some extra colors to use in gift tags for the coming holidays. I’ve also seen a Sakura Gelly Roll stand in Scribe stores, so you can go buy yours there!

 

Blog Update

It’s been quite barren in my blog for a while, and this is due to several life things that got in the way. My rule has always been to deliver good quality posts, even if it takes some time, as opposed to delivering mediocre posts in a more regular posting schedule, which is what happened here. Right now, I think I’ve been finally been able to catch up with life and should now be able to resume my regular posting of stationery and planner goodness, so do watch out for that! As it is, I’d like to thank you all for sticking around and for your continuous support.

 

Planning Dilemma: Hobonichi Weeks Vs Pocket Planning

I am honestly having a lot of trouble with my planning system right now, and not because it’s not working. It actually works! I find that I work best with a weekly view, with the days of the week on one side and a notes page on the opposite side. My dilemma is as follows: I am a huge fan of Hobonichi Weeks, and I’ve found a great planning system with its weekly views and the other features of the planner. In fact, I was able to spend about five months of continuous planning in it.

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On the other hand, I have recently discovered that I work just as well with the pocket size version of the Hobonichi Weeks. And by this I mean the weekly planner insert of CN Papercrafts works really well for me. As long as I have an accompanying bullet journal to help document my days, I can use with the smaller amount of space for my day to day planning needs.

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Now that the 2017 release of Hobonichi has come out, I am starting to again think that the Weeks is the planner for me. The moment I saw the Meow Meow Meow Weeks, I felt a really huge pull to get it (the cats were such a tease too!). To make things even harder for me (or easier, depends on how you look at it), there are several merchants who offer preorder service so I don’t really even have to mess with customs or post office. Perhaps the only disadvantage of this is the relatively steep price of the Weeks to begin with. It’s really quite the investment.

Image credits: 1101.com
Image credits: 1101.com

On the other hand again, I have a tremendous amount of pocket TNs that will remain unused. For the most part, I only have one in active use; maybe two at most, if I am feeling a lot of writing mojo. If I used the pocket size weekly planner insert as my main planner, then I would be able to really put into use my pocket TNs and it would justify the original purchase of them instead of just sitting pretty on the shelf. At least this way too, I don’t have to shell out a huge amount of money for planning for next year, since my current insert can handle 7 months already. If I really stretch, I could even use up my pocket insert stash and hand-draw the weekly layouts myself!

Pocket TNs, charms, and a lone fountain pen

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I’m not really sure what I should do! What do you think?

 

The Sunday Currently #26

It’s been such a busy month for me, and it reflects on the blog through lessened posts. I hope I can ramp it back up to my usual three posts per week, but I can’t guarantee it. Aside from an increased workload, I have also rescued another kitten and this one is already problematic from the start. I hope it survives; I’ve already fallen in love with it.

Reading

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As it’s been a busy month, I was only able to read these two books by Cyan Abad-Jugo: Letters from Crispin and Yaya Maya and the White King. I stumbled upon them in National Bookstore and I was intrigued. My instincts were correct, and they turned out to be really good books. Meant for kids around 10 years old, these are short stories centered around kids the same age that deal with family, growing up, and other similar matters. They also feature interesting facets of Philippine culture (history and lore) that are the core of the stories. Written in English, these are perfect for giving as gifts to foreign friends as well as anyone with reading-age kids. I can’t wait to read the other two books in the set!

Watching

No movies this month, but we did get to continue watching Jessica Jones. We’re now up to the 8th episode I think, and the story is really getting along now. I also just saw the trailer for the new Netflix series, Luke Cage, and I’m excited! Luke is a regular in the Jessica Jones series, and I like him there, so I’m looking forward to seeing him in the lead.

Playing

I have officially quit playing Spellstone for now, primarily because it’s such a RAM hog. It was eating up about 70% of my RAM and it was becoming ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the game and it’s really an excellent card game, but my current phone cannot play it anymore.

With its removal I was able to get quite a bit of new mobile games. Of course there’s the ubiquitous Pokemon Go, which is not really all that great on my phone either because my GPS sucks. I also finally bought Monument Valley; it’s been on my wishlist for a long time. It’s a brilliant minimalist puzzle game that makes use of perspective and M.C. Escher type environments and it’s really quite engaging. Unfortunately it’s very short, only 10 levels, but I think it’s well worth it. I will probably buy the sequel as well. Lastly, for quick brainless fun I also installed Disney Emoji Blitz which is just a match-3 game but I got it since it’s Disney and it’s full of cute emoji and it’s free to play.

Feeling

I’m feeling quite confused recently. As you have seen I switched to my Dark Brown Macata as my main planner/wallet, from being in the Hobonichi Weeks for about five months. I really enjoy the pocket size, and it’s great since my main TN collection is in that size; not to mention I’m really enjoying the new system of a weekly planner and bullet journal. The new Hobonichi release for 2017 just came out September 1, and I am very tempted to get the pink cat Weeks as well as a few accessories, but that means that I’ll be again not be using the pocket size. It’s a dilemma!

 

The Sunday Currently #25

Welcome to another edition of Sunday Currently! How are you all doing? It’s been a pretty long and stressful month, but I’m happy that I was still able to do some fun things.

Reading

Sabriel by Garth Nix – The first in a trilogy about the journeys of a necromancer named Sabriel. She is not your normal everyday evil necromancer, but she’s a necessary one to keep the Dead, well, dead. It’s a really well-made world and the writing is very compelling. I really liked how different the approach is to necromancy in this book, and I’m excited to finish the rest of the series.

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Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol. 1: The World According to Peter Parker – A version of Spider-man where a lot of other notable superheroes appear and Spider-man himself is a young teenager. It’s a pretty interesting world and maybe in another time I would have wanted to see what happens, but I’m at the stage where I want a nicely packaged story where I don’t have to wonder about things too much. That’s mostly my problem with ongoing comics runs; it’s hard to drop in the middle of it and be engaged.

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Image credits: Amazon.com

Watching

Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through The Looking Glass – In preparation for the second movie, my family watched the first one which we missed. I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised about both movies. I really like how Alice was presented, although the “real” world in which she lived in seemed unrealistic where she was acting pretty much like an independent woman of current times, except that was back in maybe the 1900s. Regardless, I enjoyed it a lot and feel really bad that the reviews of the second film aren’t so good.

Ghostbusters – Oh man, where do I start? This turned out to be such an amazing film and super enjoyable to watch. The tone was quite feminist, almost to an extreme (like what the f is that thing with Chris Hemsworth??), but it does bring up a lot of interesting conversation especially with my daughter. I really like that this is what she grows up with, and emphasizes the idea that she can be whatever she wants, with hard work and determination.

Jessica Jones – My husband and I watched the first episode, and my immediate reaction is curiosity. There’s not really a lot of things that I end up knowing by the end of that episode, and it did make me want to watch more. Unfortunately this show is quite adult (sex and violence) and it can only be watched if the daughter is not in the house. That’s going to make it a bit challenging to continue watching, which is the same difficulty we encountered when trying to watch Daredevil.

Eating

Currently enjoying the Carbonara Longganisa of Coco Hut. It’s very creamy and comes with a perfectly poached egg. As a pasta lover, this is pretty awesome!

 

Wanting

More free time, honestly! I still have quite a long list of personal things I want to do (such as read books and crafting) but I find that I run out of time in the weekends trying to catch up on lost sleep on the weekdays. Sigh.

Feeling

I’ve been feeling very confused recently. Right now, I’m very happy about my current planning system in the Hobonichi Weeks and also quite happy that I can combine it with my wallet system because of the SLC custom cover. However, I keep thinking that my chosen TN size is still pocket, and I really wish I could have the Weeks in pocket size. I have a big collection of pocket TNs, and it’s a shame that I can’t use them to plan with. I am quite reluctant to start another collection in personal size, just so I can have variety in my Weeks covers. I’m considering creating some sort of planner with Tomoe River paper so that I can have a whole year’s worth in pocket form.

 

 

After 1 Year of Traveler’s Notebooks

This post is about two months late, but I’d like to share my thoughts after a year of delving deep into the world of traveler’s notebooks.

How It All Started

My very first TN was actually the Alunsina Mini-Kislap, a local maker of beautiful hand-tooled leather journals, and I got it around February of 2015. It was my first foray into traveler’s notebooks. Shortly after that, I got my first Midori (brown passport size). From there it went pretty much downhill.

Settling Into A Preferred Size

At some point around the middle of that first year, I went on a buying spree and basically tried out all the locally produced brands of TN in standard size. It was after doing the write-up that I realized standard size was not really something I was comfortable with. It took me about a month to finally accept that pocket size is my preferred size.

Venturing International

Once I had determined my preferred size, I started looking to try out international brands as well. I was able to try out Speckled Fawns, Zenkraft (although not pocket size), Jot, Chic Sparrow, and Foxyfix. My main conclusion from this is that there are really a lot of leather variations out there, and at this point there aren’t a lot of variety available locally.

My Current Collection

At this point, I really do have quite a lot of traveler’s notebooks of various sizes. I honestly cannot really keep them all in rotation, and while I do need a few to hold my completed journals, I probably have too many for comfort and sanity.

Happy national notebook day!

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I’m looking at a future downsize at some point. I really need to evaluate my needs against my wants, and whittle down the collection into a more manageable size.

 

The Sunday Currently #24

June was rather hectic in both work and outside work. I was able to go on a beach vacation with family which was a good interlude and broke up the relentless rhythm for a bit.

Reading

That said, I did get a few things done on the reading end, although most of them are comics.

Journey Into Mystery Volumes 1 and 2 – A story about Loki when he was resurrected into a young boy. As Kid Loki he had very little of his god powers but has all of his wits and wile. The premise was interesting, and the ending was very emotional for me. Kieron Gillen is a genius writer!

Young Avengers – Since I enjoyed Kieron Gillen’s Kid Loki story, I decided to see what came next and he appears in Young Avengers next. I did not like this as much as Journey Into Mystery, primarily because of the very confusing montage when his group was traveling through dimensions.

The Girl With All the Gifts – I had been looking at this book by M.R. Carey at the bookstores for quite some time now, and finally I decided to pick it up. I originally wanted to read this because the title (and the blurb) led me to believe that it’s a paranormal story about some girl. It turns out to be completely different, but good different, since it turns out to be a post-apocalyptic story instead (one of my favorite genres). I got my husband to read this right after I finished it, and he absolutely loved it as well!

Fantastic Four and Future Foundation – In the same thread of reading comics, my husband recommended me to read these two (series of) titles by Jonathan Hickman. If you know Fantastic Four, then basically the premise is that this is the time when they were older and the Richards had kids. The plot is quite involved and almost rather convoluted since at some point it alternated between Fantastic Four and Future Foundation, but it was awesome and I loved the entire thing.

I really like reading comics, because it seems like it takes me less time to sit down and finish stuff compared to reading novels. I’m probably going to continue going through my husband’s recommended comics reading list, while hopefully getting in a novel or two per month.

Writing

As per my last post, I’m reinvigorated with my journaling because of my decision to incorporate some creativity into it. I’m enjoying this activity a lot! Aside from that, I got myself another journal called Q&A A Day: 5-Year Journal where the idea is that you will briefly answer a question daily. There is space for five answers per question for the five years that this journal is intended to be used, and it would be interesting to see how my answers change for each question over the years. I like this journal and I’ve incorporated it into my nightly routine so hopefully I can keep up with the entries.

Watching

The biggest thing for me this month was watching Warcraft: The Beginning. As a long-time player of both Warcraft 3 and World of Warcraft, this movie was a must-see. I have to say that I saw it through rose-colored glasses, and loved everything! Of course there are issues such as the rather weak plot development, but I’m hoping that things will become clearer for the planned sequels.

We also saw Finding Dory with my daughter. It was an enjoyable film, and I really like how it handled the concept of disability. It gave me some insights into the disabled culture, and how families with disabled kids cope and adapt. It’s probably not going to be my favorite animated film by any stretch, but it was definitely worth seeing.

Clicking

I’ve suddenly been consumed with the wish to collect reaction gifs, so I started browsing the vast reaches of the internet. Here’s a couple of my favorites, both found through reactiongifs.com.

because tastes nasty

Wearing

I got myself a new pair of shoes for the office, and it’s called the Yogi style from the brand Parisian. It’s a nice pair of shiny black platform shoes that go well with officewear and skirts. It gives a bit of a height boost, without the strain brought by regular high heels or pumps. It does give me footaches if I walk in it for some time, but I mostly sit at a desk while at work so it’s all good. For photo reference here’s an old post by Anagon that covered the release of this shoe.

Thinking

World and local news are really quite depressing nowadays. I don’t really want to discuss them here, but rest assured that they weigh heavily in my mind.

Wanting

I want to buy more stuff! I’m feeling the itch to get new traveler’s notebooks (I totally don’t need new ones!), stationery (I have too much already!), and pens (again I have too much already!). I need to find a way to not give in to this itch!

Feeling

Super tired! Now that my daughter has finally started school again, that means I need to wake up earlier to help her get ready for pick up by her school bus. That means less or interrupted sleep for me! I probably just need to get used to it again, but I’m really feeling the effects of the routine change right now.

Hope you all have had a wonderful first half of 2016! Here’s to hoping that the second half will be better!

 

Snail Mail Love

Since I’ve been a kid, I’ve always enjoyed sending and receiving snail mail. It was a little sad that the advent of the internet made it an outdated form of communication, but I always try to find a way to have some snail mail in my life. I have discovered some services that enable me to easily participate in snail mail activities, and I want to share them with you.

Swap-bot

Swap-bot is a service that allows users to host and participate in swaps of different types. Perhaps the easiest types that are available are postcard swaps, where basically you swap postcards of a specific theme or write specific things on postcards with your randomly assigned partner/s generated from the participants of the swap. Other swaps that I usually join include crafting supplies, planner supplies, and letters or notecards. I’ve been swapping for just over a year, and I’ve received some amazing stuff through these swaps, such as this beautiful piece of mail art (aka decorated envelope). Do note that most of the time you will be sending to international recipients, so keep that in mind as postage fees might be steep for heavier packages. I just use the “ordinary” post at the Philippine Post Office. If you want to learn more about the site or if you’re interested in joining, check out their About page.

mailart

Postcrossing

Postcrossing is a straight up postcard trading platform. The idea here though is that you will be the one sending first to a randomly assigned recipients and depending on how many you send, that unlocks postcards being sent to you in return. The more postcards you send, the more you are allowed to send at one time. I have just recently joined Postcrossing and I don’t have a lot of received postcards from that platform yet, but I am definitely enjoying it. There is even a local Postcrossing Facebook group for more community participation.

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Letter Writers Alliance

Lastly, Letter Writers Alliance is more geared toward pen pals and letter writing. And the biggest hurdle to this is that it requires a membership (with a fee!) before you can request for a pen pal from the service, but the fee is quite reasonable and you get some neat things from it. This is the newest service I have tried, and thus far I’ve only requested for pen pals once and have yet to receive letters from them. The other interesting thing about LWA is that they have a pretty nifty members-only shop where they sell really nice snail mail supplies.

Do you know of any other snail mail services that I have not mentioned? I’d love to check them out, so kindly leave links in the comments below!

 

The Sunday Currently #23

Reading

It has been a great month for reading! For some reason I’ve gotten so much reading in for the past month, and I love it! I wish I can sneak in this amount of reading every month!

First up! I’ve been curious about this series for the longest time since I’ve been seeing it on bookstore shelves on prominent display. That, and I’m quite attracted to the cover art. I did what I always do with untried series: I bought the first book to see if I would like it, and if so then I would buy the rest. The photo below clearly shows what happened. The day after I finished Throne of Glass (author Sarah J. Maas) I went and bought the rest of the series. I powered through the next three books within one weekend and came out really happy and itching to read the next in the series (which, unfortunately, won’t be out until September this year). The Throne of Glass series basically follows the story of master assassin Celaena Sardothien from the time that she was taken out of the prison she’s been in for a year to compete for the title of Adarlan’s Champion. There are lots of intriguing storylines and characters and the writing is fantastic and made it quite hard to put down. It is classified as Young Adult, although I think this should really be in the Adult category not because there’s a lot of sex, but because there’s just so much violence. It’s an excellent series and very engaging. For some reason I’m having trouble reading The Assassin’s Blade, which is a collection of prequel stories that go before the events of Throne of Glass.

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As a fan of snail mail, it was a no-brainer for me to get Griffin & Sabine (author Nick Bantock). It’s an intriguing format in that the story is told through the correspondence between the two protagonists in the form of postcards and letters. The letters are actually in a separate paper that is inside an actual envelope attached to pages of the book, while the postcards are printed in a way that you can see both the front art and the back. I really enjoyed the first book (which is actually a 25th Anniversary Limited Edition reprint) that I went and got the other two books of the trilogy. At first it seemed like a straightforward love story, but there’s a lot more depth and intrigue that’s the story of Griffin and Sabine, and Nick Bantock makes devastating use of cliffhangers. Even if the story didn’t turn out to be engaging, just the books themselves are worth getting because of the wonderful production and art. The detail that tickled me the most is that it looks like Sabine writes with a fountain pen (and you know how much I love fountain pens!). There’s actually a second trilogy which I intend to also purchase.

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I also was able to finish reading books 1-7 of the Amulet series (author Kazu Kibuishi), which is a comic book aimed for kids supposedly. We bought it for my daughter but she seemed very unwilling to continue reading it. I was intrigued, and read it for myself. The story itself is quite engaging, but is unfortunately very depressing and the setting and circumstances are quite bleak. The story follows what happens to Emily when she inher I saw almost immediately why my daughter was uncomfortable with it. I did enjoy it though, and the art is quite beautiful especially the full spreads. I’ve claimed the series for my own, and will continue getting the succeeding books.

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There’s a last book I wanted to mention which is the comic Thor: God of Thunder, which I think I’ve read last month but forgot to mention. It’s a trade paperback book collecting all the issues that are included in this story arc. It follows Thor as he battles the God Butcher who is out killing all the gods. It is a really well written and well illustrated comic, and I like the fact that the book finishes the arc.

Listening

My husband and I started listening to the podcast The D6 Generation in the car again. It’s our favorite boardgame podcast and we like listening to this and helps pass the time very nicely. It almost makes the two-hour commute feel like 30 minutes.

Watching

My family watched Civil War and it was quite an enjoyable movie. The introduction of Black Panther and Spider-man is really nicely integrated, and made me look forward to their individual movies. The idea of the Sokovia Accords sparked some interesting debates and discussions. Before that, we were also able to finish watching the previous movies Iron Man 3, Thor 2, and about half of Avengers 2.

Playing

I have finally decided to uninstall Magic Rush because it was eating up too much memory. I’m still playing Spellstone of course, but I started playing a new mobile game called Zen Koi. It’s a beautifully rendered collecting game where you try to collect and breed the different varieties of koi fish, and maybe ascend them into dragons. It’s quite a relaxing game with nice music!

Boardgame wise, we have broken out a new game called Suburbia. It’s basically a tile-laying game where you build up your metropolis to be efficient and profitable and attract more population. It shines in a two-player mode, and I can see that with more players it might make the game unbearably long.

Thinking

Wondering if I have swallowed more than I can handle at work.

Wanting

 

I’ve been following @veganorganizer at Youtube and she has a nice cover for her Hobonichi Weeks that allows her to keep her wallet stuff with her planner. I want that cover!

Feeling

Mostly amazed. My daughter is starting middle school this June, and I can’t believe how much she’s grown. She’s practically a teenager (well, not really) and I feel like time is running way too fast. She continues to grow in unexpected ways, and I am enjoying every minute of it!

 

My Diabetic Journey: 15 Months

The last time I updated on my diabetes, it was the first anniversary of my diagnosis and generally I was not feeling very hopeful about things. I have hit a plateau, and I didn’t really see any other adjustments I can do to start bringing down my numbers.

The quarterly wellness check came up in early May, and I held my breath for the results.

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Holy amazeballs! I have been able to actually hit normal levels for all of the numbers! After a long, grueling fifteen months, I’ve finally reached safe levels for both my fasting blood sugar and my triglycerides! What an amazing surprise that was! My doctor was just as happy as I was.

What led to this? I could not really pinpoint it, but I did get a more regular frequency of exercise (usually badminton and some dance classes at my gym) and consciously chose to eat on the healthier side. I also attempted a diet delivery service (Gourmet Kusina, if you’re interested) for a couple of weeks, although that was a bit hard to get used to. I got the 1200-calorie plan, and I kept feeling like I wanted to eat maybe twice what I got for most of the first and second weeks. It definitely takes some getting used to, but I’m glad to say that the food is mostly tasty. I’m planning to get the shorter plans (3 days per week) for the coming weeks, just to get my body used to that level of consumption.

My doctor did not reduce my blood sugar maintenance medicine, so it is still at the maximum safe dosage for the next few months. He did adjust the medicine that targets my triglycerides, reducing the frequency to only every other night instead of every night. He said he will start reducing my blood sugar maintenance meds by next quarter if I can keep up these numbers. I’m very excited about this development! I really really want to get off the meds eventually.