Keeping Weight Off the Japanese Way

Keeping weight off is the same as praying. I pray that the cheesecake I ate yesterday doesn’t go straight to my thighs. I pray that this 10-minute workout will burn off 300 calories. I pray that my metabolism is fast enough to eat a day’s worth of food in my sleep.

All of it is prayer–then I take my prayers seriously and put actions behind each (silent) statement.

At the beginning of the year in “How I Lost over 40 Pounds in Japan“, I outlined how I actively went from size 14 to size 6 by using or ditching some Japanese techniques. However direct losing the weight in Japan was in 2014 through 2015, keeping it off in the States since 2016 is a whole other beast.

After I moved back to the States, reality gave me a punch to the face: I needed a job, my cat had bald patches from stress, and in a household of meat-eaters, I was the lone pescatarian, or fish eater. In the beginning, it was fun. The first thing I ate was a burrito from Del Taco. (Japan has some Mexican food restaurants, but they’re all pricey for only decent food.) I continued to eat anything that didn’t have meat, and in 2 weeks, I gained 10 pounds. That added to the stress. I had to lose weight again while looking for a job, protecting my cat from 3 big dogs, and learning to live with my in-laws (I love them, but it’s always stressful living in a new habitat).

To deal with the stress, I set up a routine again. In the mornings, I exercised, monitored my portions with vegetarian meals, and drank more water. The most important part of the routine was eating around the same time every day, something that the Japanese have on point.

Gym Memberships (pre-COVID)

I did get a gym membership, something I by-passed when I lived in Japan, and stuck to it for about a month before I landed a job at the Japanese Consulate in LA. I ended up canceling this when I realized I stayed in the stretching room for 45 minutes before half-assedly doing machine work. I ditched the gym membership and returned to what I knew: personalizing my home workouts. I woke up before everyone else and did a 10- to 20-minute routine in the garage, switching between cardio and weight training. After work and dinner, I’d do another 10- to 20-minute workout. Interval training has helped a bit with keeping the belly fat at bay–and there’s a recent study to support that shorter yet intense workouts can reduce belly fat better than longer workouts (“The Secret to Losing Belly Fat“). On the weekends, I divided my time between walks and yoga routines.

If you’re wondering about taking up a gym membership versus working out at home, think about what you want to do in your workout. For me, I’m there to get fit but not build bulk, so rows of weights and machines aren’t important to me. If it’s hard to get to the gym, consider starting at home and building a foundation (i.e. pilates, yoga, beginner workouts) before putting your hard-earned money into a membership. Remember: $10 a month equals $120 a year.

Diets?

The one thing I remember Japanese people loved more than alcohol was a successful diet. It didn’t matter if the diet didn’t turn into a lifestyle–a good diet was a good diet. I had learned the hard way to ditch the yo-yo diets, dig deep psychologically, and find the mental and emotional triggers for my poor lifestyle.

I returned to plastic boxes and Tupperware of homemade food. The cafeteria at my new job helped keep me in line–I couldn’t see myself paying $2.95 for a slice of ordinary pizza. To keep my waistline and wallet happy, I packed food ahead of time and prepped meals when I needed to, most consisting of rolled eggs, rice, and veggies.

At work, it was an uphill battle towards the scale line to maintain my weight. With all the office celebrations and cheap sweets in bulk, saying, “One slice won’t hurt” didn’t hurt so much. But if that same delicious cake kept calling my name for 3 days (cake is good for 3 days, right?), it became increasingly obvious that I had to control myself even if others floated by with beautiful plates of cakes in their hands.

Being that my job is extremely busy, I could control myself after 9AM. Afterwards, I was swamped with so much work, my coffee would go cold.

Stress Levels

I admit my stress is a little higher than when I lived in Japan. Even without language barriers to hurdle over or a sick husband to take care of, I still face daily stresses that didn’t plaque me when I was an expat.

Unlike my employment as a language assistant, I’m a secretary again with no real purpose than to make others’ lives easier. As a language assistant, I always felt I was doing something worthy–and I do feel that the place I work I am helping others accomplish worthy goals for students–but I don’t feel as accomplished as I did in Japan. Also, everyone around me seems to have clearer ideas of what they want to do with their lives. I’m still deciding, but I get the feeling that whatever I choose, it won’t make me any money.

There’s also that lovely bonus of racism in the U.S. It’s not to say that Japan–or any other country–doesn’t share in racism and colorism, but it’s never a good thing when the survivors of racism have poorer health conditions mostly due to higher stress levels. If you’ve never had to worry about walking around without thinking about your skin color being a factor in being attacked or harassed, you won’t understand this daily fear and anxiety. Even though a new president may seem like a cure-all, it’ll take years before racism disappears. At the end of the day, I can’t stop being Black, so I’ll be facing racism and racist acts until I die.

These stresses, now that I’ve had the chance to stand back and see what my American life looks like, contribute to my waistline and overall well being. Since coming back to the States, I’ve gone from 119 pounds to 136 pounds, a 17-pound gain that seems to cling to my body. In spite of my weight gain, I’m fitter now than when I lived in Japan. I have to be fitter to balance the stress I face on a daily basis.

Chadwick Boseman Tribute

Rest in power, Chadwick. You’ll always be our Black Panther.

The dress that the woman is wearing is a real dress from officially licensed DC brand, Hero Within. Get it at https://herowithinstore.com/collections/marvel/products/black-panther-dress.

The Correct Way to Write Anime/Manga Reviews? — Fujinsei

I’m not exactly sure why, but I often receive e-mails asking for advice on how to write anime/manga reviews “correctly”. Not that I’m complaining on being asked. It’s just that I don’t consider myself a reviewer unlike many anibloggers. I’m more of an entertainer, unintentional commedienne, occasional translator, and—my favourite—fandom promoter. A mouthful, I know, so […]

via The Correct Way to Write Anime/Manga Reviews? — Fujinsei

10 Recommended Romantic Manga With Strong Female Protagonists (Part 1) — Fujinsei

*This is Part 1 of a 3-Part Post Series. Enjoy! I love reading romance manga. It doesn’t have to be in the shoujo genre. As long as there is good romance in the story, I’m in. For many shoujo manga fans, sizzling romance and hot characters are big turn-ons but that doesn’t mean that we […]

via 10 Recommended Romantic Manga With Strong Female Protagonists (Part 1) — Fujinsei

My Mother Made Me Go to Japan

My Mother Made Me Go to Japan

If it weren’t for my mom, I wouldn’t had gone to Japan and became the person who I am today. At the ripe age of 13, I became interested in anime and manga, and in a year, I made going to Japan my dream. Before I had my chance to go to Japan, my mom bought me secondhand manga from yard sales and told me about events relating to Japan. When my school hosted exchange students from different countries, my mom allowed Yuki, a Japanese student from Hokkaido, to stay with us.

By the time I was in college, my mom and I already knew I wanted to go to Japan, but coming from a single-income household, it seemed so far away. One day, she burst into my room to put a newspaper clipping in my hand for a city program in Japan. It paid for a majority of the 2-week program. With my mother’s help, I was accepted into the program where I met some life-long friends and allies in Japan. If she hadn’t found that newspaper clipping and helped me with the application, I wouldn’t had gone to Japan (for cheap) the first time.

I learned of the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program during that time, and I made it my Plan A after college to join the program. Why not get someone else to pay me to go and teach English in Japan for at least one year?  The first program helped me get into the JET Program as it showed I was interested in Japan without any study abroad or Japanese classes on my transcript. After I received my interview date, my mom and aunt accompanied me to LA for the interview, the whole time saying, “Don’t worry. You’ll get in.” And they were right. I got offered a position in the program. The only thing that had me doubting the program was the up-front costs for lodging and bills. My mother told me, “You have a job waiting for you in Japan. Take it.” We both knew I couldn’t skip out on my dream of living, working, and later, learning Japanese just because of money. It didn’t stop me before, and from my mom’s own perspective, my dream outweighed poverty.

Without my mother, I don’t think I would’ve felt comfortable or strong enough to go to Japan. Sometimes I forget that my mom is human, not My Parental Unit or Super Mom. Over the years, I’ve seen my mother as someone who is funny, charismatic, and strong. She sought happiness for herself as well as her children, and she did the best she could as a single parent. The little things she provided to my brothers and I, whether it was homemade muffins or company to the store, she helped shape our futures.

By pushing me into programs to Japan amid the billion things she’s done for me, my mother has forever changed my future for the better.

 

7 Free to Cheap Things to Do for Job Hunting after Japan

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7 Free to Cheap Things to Do for Job Hunting after Japan

The job hunt has changed, and whether you’ve been in Japan for 1 year or 5 years, returnees must learn how the hunt works again.

#1: Clean up your online presence.

If you are tagged in drunken or half-naked pictures on Facebook or in an inappropriate debate within 140 characters on Twitter, odds are you don’t care about your image. Why would any company think you about their company’s image?

No Cost. It only costs your time. Do a Google search with your name in quotations (ex. “John Smith”) to specifically find you. Remove unflattering photos and messages in social media. Scrub your Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, and any other social media accounts until they show a shining version of you.

#2: Create your personal brand.

Use free online articles and any online resources to make anything with your name has a consistent, personalized feel. Make sure your personal logo, LinkedIn, social media, website, blog, business cards, resumes, cover letters, and even your email signatures give the same image and feeling as who you are.

Cost? If you have a friend who is an artist or graphic designer and they’re willing to make a logo in trade for portfolio credit, this can be free. If you don’t, no worries. There are plenty of free logo designers and generators online such as Logomakr (see example below).

freelogo2 - Copy

Here’s a free logo I made in 5 minutes on Logomakr.

#3: Get 5 to 10 references.

Gone are the days to write “References upon request”. Online applications demand them, and you’ve gotta deliver. List all the jobs you’ve had, pick references who will give you positive recommendations, and contact them. Send them a copy of your resume so that when employers ask about you, your references will have a better idea of the you now.

Cost? It’s free, if your references are happy to do it, but always remember to send them a thank-you note ($1 for 10 from the Dollar Tree) or a $5 gift card to Amazon or Starbucks. This may be your ticket to a job, and if not, you’re still showing your appreciation.

#4: Quantify your experiences in simple language.

When reading your resume, a hiring manager doesn’t want to read, “Completed secretarial duties.” They want to see how you among hundreds of applications can contribute to the company. How did you make a difference at your last work places and by how much?

If you’re coming out of the JET Program, you can quantify your experience with how many students you taught. “I taught English to over 300 elementary school students.” If you can’t quantify your experience, qualify it. I went with, “changed English education culture at 2 high schools”. The best balance for getting a job is to quantify your past work and add value to them with what you did. As before, I used, “changed English education culture at 2 high schools by planning, marketing, and creating English-related events; consistently introducing effective and creative activities; reviving the English Club and recruiting students for the club; and building relationships with American bases for day exchanges and competitions”.

No Cost. Just take your time, sit down with a list of your work experiences, and write how you made a difference in those jobs.

#5: Go pro.

Get a professional to critique your resume. TopResume and Prepared to Win are companies that specialize in maximizing job hunters’ one-page resumes and land jobs.

Cost? TopResume has a free resume evaluation, though their other services may have fees. Another resource for resume design is simply by Google searching your industry resume. For example, if you are looking for a job in technology, use “engineer resume”. You’ll get to see interesting and unique resume designs that can help make your resume get to the top of the pile. Always remember that your experience has the spotlight, not just the look of your resume.

#6: Don’t rely on the digital world.

It’s very easy to send a resume via email or an online application system such as Indeed or Monster. You don’t have to be like everyone else. If you really want the job, research the company and get the company’s mailing address and the hiring manager’s information. After 2 weeks of applying or the application period has ended, follow up on your application status. Send handwritten thank-you cards to the hiring managers or call them. Go to job fairs and network the traditional way with business cards and printed resumes. Add flair to your printed materials by using high-quality or premium paper. Talk to returnees who were in your program while in Japan and ask them about their current occupation. Maybe they can help you find a job, even if it’s temporary.

Cost? Get 10 handwritten thank-you cards from the Dollar Tree and the 99 Cents Store for $1 plus tax. The price for business cards varies at different stores. (I use OvernightPrints.com instead of Vista Print because they use recycled paper and really thick cardstock with fast shipping.)  Buy premium resume paper at Wal-Mart for around $6. Most job fairs are free, but if you need a place to start, check out EventBrite or your local classifieds section.

#7: Down-play select experiences.

The one thing that came as a surprise to me in returning to the States was that a lot of hiring managers didn’t care about how many things I did in Japan. In cases where my husband and I were applying for work in retail, customer service, technological and clerical industries, we were treated with disdain after learning we had graduated from college and lived abroad. For me personally, I didn’t know if it was because of America’s anti-education culture and ethnocentrism. It really came down to the manager’s ego. Being younger, more educated, more global, and multilingual made some managers uncomfortable, and in some cases, hostile towards us during interviews.

Down-playing certain experiences for specific jobs, especially in entry level areas, could be the difference in earning a paycheck or leaving an interview disheartened. Be prepared to make a case for yourself when you’re applying for a job outside whatever you did in Japan. If you’re going for a sales or tech job, don’t go into detail about your time as a teacher.

Also, don’t take it off your resume just because it doesn’t seem to apply as it will look like a huge gap in your job history. Align the skills from your Japan job with the skills from the jobs you’re applying for and put those on your resume. Instead of using, “I taught English to 2 senior high schools,” you could use, “I learned to use PCs and trained other employees with various software in English and Japanese” or “I used Microsoft Office in Japanese and English to create multilingual documents in a fast-paced environment.” They show that you have adaptability and technical skills.

#Jade: How I Found a Job after Japan in 5 months

Hunger. That’s what fueled me through my 2-month temp job at the Consulate General of Japan in LA despite my 5 hour daily commute. That’s what got me to apply for 2 different positions in the community college down the street. That’s what got me a job within 5 months. It wasn’t my stomach growling–“Hey, you don’t have enough money to get through the month!” It was the hunger to set up my new life in the U.S. It’s not to say that I didn’t feel discouraged or upset at being unemployed without unemployment benefits. I had to re-think my approach and remember:

“Every ‘no’ is one step closer to a ‘yes’.”

From the stories of JET alumni and former expats, I’ve learned that the job industry hasn’t shrunk since I was a college student. The job industry had moved to online applications and keyword software to filter applicants. I couldn’t just be a secretary anymore. I had to be a tech-savvy administrative professional with the skills and go-get-’em attitude of 2 or 3 people.

Aside from the intrinsic qualities, adaptability was key. I had to learn from books, read articles, subscribe to job alerts and newsletters, and upgrade my skills with diplomas and tests to land a wonderful job in 5 months. If you’re not landing jobs and you’re doing the same thing each time, change your approach.

#Your Turn!

What have you done (differently) to get a new job since leaving Japan?

What tips would you give to job hunters post-Japan?

Like creating manga? Want to visit Japan? Then enter the International Manga Awards! — RocketNews24

The Tenth International Manga Award submission period is open now. Gold and Silver Award winners will get a chance to visit Japan! Though Japan is known for a variety of cultural and technological exports throughout the world, manga and anime are among their most famous. In fact, manga and anime are so popular, they’ve become a major part…

via Like creating manga? Want to visit Japan? Then enter the International Manga Awards! — RocketNews24

Attack on Titan author offers message of support, artwork for the people of Kumamoto — RocketNews24

The residents of Kyushu don’t have to fight a titan, but they do have some giant obstacles to overcome. Having been born in Oita Prefecture, Kyushu, manga artist and Attack on Titan creator Hajime Isayama recently uploaded a picture and a message of support on his personal blog for those affected by the recent earthquakes. The artwork combines…

via Attack on Titan author offers message of support, artwork for the people of Kumamoto — RocketNews24

Celebrate Twenty Years Of Cardcaptor Sakura With A Brand-New Manga Series — SnapThirty

There are three specific Anime series from most of our childhoods that you would have experienced thanks to early morning television without even realising that they were indeed cartoons developed in the great land of Nippon, at least…that’s how it was for us living in Australia. Thank you, Cheese TV! Chances are you were a […]

via Celebrate Twenty Years Of Cardcaptor Sakura With A Brand-New Manga Series — SnapThirty

VIZ Media Announces New Tokyo Ghoul, Naruto and GANGSTA. Publishing Acquisitions — Lesley’s Musings… on Anime & Manga

VIZ Media expands its novel and manga publishing roster with the addition of several new title acquisitions set for release later in 2016. Fans of the Tokyo Ghoul manga series will not want to miss the Fall 2016 debut of the first of three new original prose novels. Each novel will focus on lead characters […]

via VIZ Media Announces New Tokyo Ghoul, Naruto and GANGSTA. Publishing Acquisitions — Lesley’s Musings… on Anime & Manga

This was so big in Japan over a year ago–and I love it! “Here’s Your First Look at the Japanese Zombie Comic Everybody’s Talking About” from Dark Matters

Click here to check it out at io9.com. “I am a Hero Omnibus: Volume One” coming to stores April 6.

Source: Here’s Your First Look at the Badass Japanese Zombie Comic Everybody’s Talking About

10 Things to Learn After Living in Japan for 5 Years

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10 Things to Learn after Living in Japan

It’s easy to learn a little bit about a foreign country in a year. In 5 years, any foreign resident will discover the ins and outs of their new home country. For me, I’ve learned about Japanese people, culture, and lifestyles that most foreigners won’t see in a year or two of residence.

10. You’ll be thoroughly surprised by the lack of technology Japan uses on a daily basis. The image of Japan usually includes robots on the streets, high-end luxury cars with races on straightaways, and girls in school uniforms carrying swords in their bags. Um, no, that’s a stereotype. In actuality, Japan maintains close ties with tradition–meaning that some of Japanese technology is lacking. When I wanted a copier to number my pages, my co-worker said, “Sorry. Here are these stamps.” As I sat stamping each page with what I thought were obsolete number stamps, I asked myself if all copiers in teaching places were like this. They were, and I learned to number the pages on my computer first. (I used the same copiers in business offices with the same functions in the States.)

9. You will be asked the same questions from the start of your journey to the very end. When I arrived in Okinawa, everyone asked me typical questions. “Where are you from? What is your favorite food? Do you have a boyfriend?” Along with the questions came the same remarks. “Your Japanese is good. You’re good at using chopsticks.” For fellow expats in Japan, don’t take it personal. They’re icebreakers. Segue the questions into questions about them and see where it takes you.

8. You will always have to show extra paperwork because you’re a foreigner. I don’t know how many times my husband and I had to bring unnecessary copies, documents, and forms to the bank, police station, immigration office, and the airport because people wanted to give us a hard time. My husband had it worse because he looked like a tall white man, so Japanese men thought he had a Japanese wife or girlfriend, which happens a lot when foreign males go to Japan. I solved that issue by making a binder with all the important documents and copies. It also doubled as an emergency binder. In the event of a fire or tsunami, grab the binder!

7. Whether you’re black, white, or purple, you’re in the same boat as every other foreigner. Japan is a homogenous country–you’ll mostly see and hear Japanese. The control freaks who arrive will want to immediately fit into Japanese society. No matter how well you speak, read, write, or think Japanese, Japanese people won’t fully accept you. Even half-Japanese people aren’t fully accepted (check Miss Japan). Though that seems like a dire way of looking at Japan and its people, it’s close to how privileged people in any other country treat the unprivileged populace.

6. You’ll learn how to check your attitude, anger, pessimism, arrogance, and ego if you really want to fit into Japanese society. Japanese people are very humble. You’ll find that as time goes on, Japanese people are reluctant to boast about their differences or what makes each one of them unique.

5. You’ll learn Japanese, but unless you study and maintain what you’ve learned, you’ll just be functional in spoken Japanese. You can learn Japanese without studying after listening and speaking to people for several years. Still, many expats don’t learn and maintain written Japanese without study.

4. You’ll see that options in everything is limited…except in green teas, ramen brands, and seaweed wrappers. After learning that the aisles in San-A are different from your former grocery haunts, food and marketplaces are equally unique in serving a mostly-Japanese populace.

3. You’ll notice that the Japanese lifestyle is really minimal and uncomplicated. When I returned to American life, I was surprised by how everything and everyone were fast, fast, fast, and when something was slow, it was too slow. Commuters behind me would groan at any human delays at the ancient MetroLink ticketing machines.

2. You’ll see how humans are unwilling–and even visibly scared–of change or difference. April in Japan usually meant a changeover in staff, a new school year in a new school, an assurance that you as a human had moved to the next stage in your life. I’ve noticed in between Japan and the States that people like their habits no matter how rigid or unhealthy they are to their lives. It could be eating habits, going outside the city, changing how something is done–people are afraid of change. The lesson to be learned in today’s world is that everything is always changing, always looking to grab you by the ankle and pull you under. Accepting change will keep you and other skeptical Japanese folks from drowning.

1. You’ll notice the real strength of women. Before coming to Japan, I thought that the country boasted unhappy, naive women who reluctantly accepted their roles as mothers and housewives. After watching, talking, and befriending many Japanese women, I realized that these women didn’t only define their lives as mothers and housewives. They were also teachers, workers, budget-balancers, hobbyists, cooks, cleaners, and disciplinarians. No matter how much work came their way because of their jobs or families, they could still smile and laugh and play without much worry or complaint. My problem was looking through the eyes of an American woman who wasn’t expected to do all those things. When I was put in the same positions (outside of motherhood), I couldn’t understand how other women did everything like clockwork while most men looked on. I found myself frowning at the men, especially retiring men who didn’t have any other discernible skills than work. As I looked at the women in my life and in my husband’s life, I noticed that women who worked, balanced and paid bills, cooked, cleaned, and cared and listened to their rambling, ungrateful children were the strong ones.