Don’t Make a Mountain Out Of a Molehill

You feel out of breath going up a flight of stairs. You strain and pull on your pants that are feeling just a tad bit too tight. You look in the mirror and pinch your rolls, and think to yourself, “It’s impossible. This is the body I have, and this is just the size it wants to be.”

Before I learned about nutritional eating and now, with healthy diet and exercise regimen

Before I learned about nutritional eating and now, with healthy diet and exercise regimen

The very FIRST STEP you need to take on your path towards health and wellness is to realize it won’t happen overnight. It’s going to take time and effort, and a lot of changes in habits. Probably one of the biggest things you can do for yourself first, is to learn to eat right. Some people like to start working out, but they don’t fix their bad eating habits, and oftentimes overeat their gains in the gym, not realizing they were already eating a surplus of calories and they probably don’t need to eat more.

When I first started my transformation, I only altered my eating habits. While I’ve got to credit the miles I’d walk while at work at my serving job that I had started again when I was starting my health changes for burning a lot of calories, changing my eating habits was the number one factor that helped in bringing my surplus of fat down to a healthier level. What led to my weight gain involved several factors. These included:

  1. Sedentary job: I switched from waiting tables which is quite an active and physically demanding job to film production work, oftentimes working at my computer at a desk for 12-15 hours a day.
  2. Unlimited access to “junk food”: Film jobs/production jobs like to feed their crew because they tend to keep them for ungodly amounts of hours. The cheapest and easiest way to feed them is to send a PA to Costco to buy large boxes of cookies, chips, peanut butter filled pretzels, fruit snacks, and so on and so forth. Fresh fruit and veggies go bad quickly, but you can buy enough snacks to stock the craft services table for weeks without throwing away food if you buy processed carb-based snacks such as those I listed.
  3. Ordering out for lunch every day: This probably doesn’t apply to everyone but for me, ordering out was always such a treat because I grew up on home cooked food, always very light and healthy, and so any time I got to order out or eat out, I viewed it as a splurge. But when your office feeds you every day, you can’t always get the tastiest and fattiest meal every time! Especially when you’re stuck behind a desk only moving your fingers and you don’t need those calories. They’ll go unburned, and our efficient calorie-storing bodies will immediately convert those unused calories into fat! Make picking something healthy your “most of the time” habit, so that then when you treat yourself, you’re consciously making that decision instead of doing it all the time with no thought behind it.

So what kind of physical health goals do you have? Write them down. Really think about them and the steps that you need to take to achieve them. I promise you it’s doable. You just have to start by changing some habits, one at a time. Don’t worry about overhauling everything at once, because then it will seem impossible. Start by giving yourself some concrete goals like:

  • Calculate your daily caloric needs using MyFitnessPal or some other caloric calculator
  • Start taking the stairs instead of the elevator when possible
  • Start thinking about the food you are eating and why you’re eating it, are you really hungry or are you just bored?
  • What realistic size do you want to get to?
  • What are some physical health goals you’d like to achieve? To be able to do 10 full pushups? To do a real pull-up?

Pick one of those goals and start working on it for a month. I started with nutritional changes. Losing a lot of my extra weight made it a little easier to get started on a fitness routine, but for some people it may work better the other way around. The key is to pick what will work for you.

"Skinny Fat" after weight loss from nutritional changes only, to now with a focus on strength training with HIIT

“Skinny Fat” after weight loss from nutritional changes only, to now with a focus on strength training with HIIT

Subscribe to my blog for more updates! I’m dishing it out in bite-sized portions so you have time to implement changes and so it’s less overwhelming! If you have specific questions, feel free to comment here or TWEET at me!

 

 

 

 

cindy chu under the table

5 Things You Can Do For Your Acting Career

Yesterday was a great day, I had a meeting with my new manager that left me feeling inspired and empowered, and then my friend had a one-woman show at the Comedy Central Stage in Hollywood. I went to it only knowing it was a dark comedy about wanting to die and I left, moved to tears, heart aching, stones in my throat. Another inspiring moment. From the sound of that, you might think, “Wow, actors have it easy in LA!” But let’s clear up some misconceptions. The reason I had a meeting was because my former manager switched career tracks and is doing something else now, and that left me in a weird space where maybe I was still with the same company but with no attachment to one particular manager, which meant I’d feel like I was just that kid who hung around a party wanting to be invited in but not knowing if I was welcome. So I asked for things to be clarified with my new contact and he set up a meeting to get to know me and see about working together. We meshed well and know more about one another now and I’m really excited to move forward with the company now, knowing he knows where I’m at and I know where they are in this whole process.

Michaela Myers' stage setup for her one-woman show I Am Vertical, performed at the Comedy Central Stage in Hollywood

Michaela Myers’ stage setup for her one-woman show I Am Vertical, performed at the Comedy Central Stage in Hollywood

Actress Michaela Myers

Regarding my friend’s show, her name is Michaela Myers, she’s incredibly smart, funny, gorgeous, and wow, is she talented! I actually just made her acquaintance recently, in the last few months. I had gotten into the improv comedy scene this year and ended up joining a bunch of different Facebook groups for comedy in LA. On one of them, I saw a request for submissions for a new comedic web series, starring women, & written and directed by women, which is what we need more of in this industry! There wasn’t that much information but I submitted and they got back to me and told me they wanted me to read for a particular character, and asked for a self-tape first. After that, they asked me to come in for a callback in person, and I did, and they ended up wanting to book me for the part. Now, most of you already know a lot of these web series are deferred payment. So you have to decide for yourself whether or not it will be a good project to be a part of, or not. I asked for other projects they’d worked on and they sent me some clips, which got me really excited because they were well-produced and funny, so I signed on. Through that whole process, I met so many incredible people, movers and shakers, and good people to know. I added to my tribe. I learned a lot. I got to be a lead on a show, and have that experience, AND make all sorts of new connections. (Read about our webseries.)

A behind the scenes shot from Under the Table web series. Ashaki Ayoka adjusting a light as DP Nathan Krauss scopes out his shot

A behind the scenes shot from Under the Table web series. Ashaki Ayoka adjusting a light as DP Nathan Krauss scopes out his shot

cindy chu under the table

My co-star on Under the Table, Maggie Monk, took this shot of me massaging Pam with my feet while we were hurrying up and waiting for our next scene

But let’s get back to Michaela. She’s been in the comedy scene. She decided to do a one-woman show and through her network she was able to work with an incredible director to help her put her show together. She made the crowd laugh until our ribs hurt, and then she took us into her deep hole of despair and cry with her, and brought us back to the light of love and laughter. But you know what? She wasn’t even SAG when I started working with her on our web series. Through doing the show (and the producer doing the paperwork PROPERLY) she’s now SAG-Eligible. And she has no representation, but I think after last night, people will be knocking on her door. She has talent. She can write. She can act. She can do comedy, and drama, and dramedy. Even though she didn’t have representation, she was still making her own content and producing for herself, and going out for projects like our webseries, because it’s all part of the experience and process, and all of that can help you become a better artist, a better actor.

Cindy Chu, Michaela Myers, Maggie Monk with their cash on set of Under the Table

Cindy Chu, Michaela Myers, Maggie Monk with their cash on set of Under the Table

So with all of that being said, let’s get back to it. Many aspiring actors take off and move to Los Angeles or New York to make it big and go for their dreams. Many of us don’t have a good network in place or we may not even know what to do when we get there. Here are some important tips that I’ve learned through trial and error and I’m here to share them with you. Here are 5 things you can implement right now.

1) DON’T JUST WAIT FOR OPPORTUNITIES, MAKE YOUR OWN, & BUILD YOUR TRIBE
You’re going to hear this over and over again. Produce your own content. Write. Film. Put it on Vine or YouTube! You can use your actor friends to collaborate with! Consumer cameras and technology have grown so much that you can self-produce professional looking videos pretty easily. Don’t worry if it’s not great to begin with, the more you do it, the better you’ll get.

2) MAKE SURE YOUR REELS/HEADSHOTS/PROFILES ARE UP TO DATE
Take some time to make sure your various casting site profiles are up to date and if you have new footage you can use for your reels, get those reels cut and updated! Did you perhaps fill out your profile with a bunch of skills you don’t actually have? Go through and make sure you didn’t say you can polka if you can’t actually do it! Don’t put stuff on there just to fill your profile up. Keep it clean and concise and true. I’ve heard so many stories of actors being hired for a “special skill” they listed and they show up to set and aren’t able to perform. They not only make themselves look unprofessional but in turn it looks bad for the casting directors, too. You definitely don’t want to burn bridges that way.
Check out my IMDB page to view my recently updated reels.

3) ARE YOU ON THE RIGHT SITES?
For Los Angeles, if you’re doing commercial and theatrical work, you should have profiles on LACasting, Actors Access, and Casting Frontier. Lesser used ones would be NowCasting and Backstage. If you’re self-submitting, I recommend you pay for a year of Showfax rather than paying submission by submission, it’ll save you money to pay for the subscription and be able to self-submit as much as you want.

4) RESEARCH PROJECTS YOU’RE GOING IN FOR
Are you self-submitting? Are you getting audition appointments from your reps? Know who you’re going in for. What genre is the show? What else have they cast before? For those newer to the game, are these people legitimate or is it going to be a crap shoot? If you watch projects the producing/directing team has made before, and they’re indie, do they look like good projects to be a part of? Your time is like money, and you want to make sure you invest it wisely.

5) PREPARATION PREPARATION PREPARATION
Are you preparing as well as you should for your audition? Do you know the story you’re going to tell in the room? Do you know what your character perspective is? Practice with your actor friends and not your dog or boyfriend or girlfriend (unless they’re an actor, hehe) so that when you go in, you’re ready. If you’re bad at improv, get into an improv class (UCB, Nerdist, iOWest, Groundlings, Second City) and start a practice group outside of class. Do some indie shows. If you’re not in an ongoing acting class, get into one. It’s a bad idea to come here counting on making it overnight, because it takes a lot of hard work and talent and acting is just like any other art. You wouldn’t expect an architect to build a solid house on his/her first try, or a photographer to be able to shoot like Mario Testino right away, you’ve got to hone your skills before you can become a master of your craft.

These are just some basic things you can start with, and I’ll be posting more about other facets of the acting industry as a fellow up-and-coming actor. My hope is that I can save some of you time and money and a headache by giving you some real advice that maybe I learned the hard way, so it’ll be easier for you.

We didn’t pick an easy industry, but we’re doing it for whatever reason, so let’s do it well!

What other topics would you like to hear about? If you have any questions or comments, please comment below!

~Cindy

cindy chu, under the table

After our last shoot day on Under The Table, all the wonderful cast and crew there that day! I feel so lucky to know them all! Top Row L to R: Jessie Hixenbaugh, Andra Whipple, Reed Burkett, Denise Valentine, Gabriela Varley. Seated on Sofa L to R: Lauren Davis, Cindy Chu, Maggie Monk, Nathan Krauss. Seated on floor L to R: Grace Earley, Michaela Myers, Hanna Bowens, and Pam (also featured in portrait above sofa)

Let’s Talk About Habits

There’s a great book titled “Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain” by Sharon Begley. Humans like to form habits. We like to say, “But that’s how it’s always been done.” or “I’ve always done it this way!” There’s another quote I’d like you to think about too, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Well, if you’re anything like me, sometimes (a lot of times) you fall into a lazy slump. You’re not motivated to workout and you let yourself eat all your favorite junky foods 24/7. Maybe once in awhile you make a halfhearted attempt at going to the gym, like in January when everyone makes their New Year’s Resolutions they forget about two weeks later. But do you want to know what one of the number one reasons people fail at losing weight is? They fail to sustain their healthy habits. They let one cheat meal pull them off the wagon and they go on a long bender again.

It can take just three weeks to form a new habit. Three weeks. But are you ready to commit fully? Are you ready to make healthy changes in your life permanent and a part of your routine? 

Cindy Chu's fitness progress after just one month of HIIT workouts and some strength training at home

Cindy Chu’s fitness progress after just one month of HIIT workouts and some strength training at home

I’ve been on this journey most of my life but it wasn’t until the last few years that I’ve learned how and why people should eat healthy most of the time. I’ve read numerous books on nutrition and healthy eating, and even completed a certificate course in nutrition. Now that I’m armed with more personal knowledge about why I should eat a certain way, I’m able to implement it into my life as a WAY of life. Do I still eat “unhealthy” foods sometimes? Absolutely. I encourage you to, as well, but the key is to make that kind of meal a deliberate choice, a “cheat meal”, a treat, and not an every day occurrence. The rest of the time, I make pretty boring eating decisions. Cereal with some fruit for breakfast, with nut milk. Lunch of eggs and veggies, maybe some chips and salsa or hummus. Dinner? Salad or veggies and a veggie burger patty. I have “cheat meals” a few times a week, maybe donuts or french toast one morning on the weekend, a slice of pizza for dinner on Tuesday nights, but I don’t keep this kind of food around at home, nor do I let myself eat that way all the time. I do keep healthy snacks around, though. Protein bars made with a base of nut butter, jars of raw nuts, fresh fruit, carrots, etc.

At my uppermost threshold before I learned how to eat right and eat well and now, after adding exercise

At my uppermost threshold before I learned how to eat right and eat well and now, after adding exercise

If you want to lose weight, the first thing you should do is fix your diet. Change the WAY you eat. Erase what you’ve been doing and start over and build from a healthy base. Eat nutritionally dense foods, basically the closer to nature it is, the healthier, rather than processed food. Make spaghetti squash with sauce instead of having white spaghetti, eliminate all that white bread you eat daily, get rid of the sugary drinks and sodas (maybe swap for something like La Croix if you love your fizzy water), eat more veggies, cut the butter and dairy, cut the desserts except for a couple times a week at most.

When I initially started on this most recent and effective leg of my journey to health, honestly I initially lost much of my weight through diet alone. I learned how to eat better and eat well, using some very simple concepts, and within a couple months most of my extra weight had been utilized by my body and burned away. I didn’t have much muscle mass then as when I was heavier, I hated exercising, so I didn’t really, and I became what I call “skinny-fat”. I had dropped several sizes, but I felt like my skin was loose and jiggly, and everything was too soft for my tastes. About a year after I’d dropped the weight I had moved to Los Angeles from Ann Arbor, MI. Everyone here was so active, and I felt like I had no more excuses. I had to make exercise part of my life. And so I’ve been working on finding what works for me, and I’m starting to see results. But I’ll save that for another post.

Learning to eat well & regular exercise & weight training have huge effects on your health

Learning to eat well & regular exercise & weight training have huge effects on your health

Will you join me in pledging that you will work on making healthy changes in your life so that you can honor your one body you have for this life? Will you join me in adapting your habits and picking up newer, healthier ones?

A sample meal plan:

Breakfast:

One serving bran cereal with nut milk
Two clementines
Coffee, black, or with splash of nut milk

Snack:

Carrots with a dollop of hummus

Lunch:

Eggs with sautéed veggies
Lentils or black beans

Snack:

Corn tortilla chips & salsa, portioned

Dinner:

Salmon fillet, or burger patty, or veg patty, or chicken breast
Sauteed veggies
Side of butternut squash

Cindy Chu diet

Tuna on salad with an almond milk latte make a great lunch/dinner option

Look for more posts on health, exercise and nutrition from me soon! I’m also doing some Periscopes on all of that as well, if you want to follow me:
Cindy Chu’s Periscope

If you have any questions, please ask and I will address them in later posts. This is more of an introductory post to get you excited to join me in your own journey to health. I’ll be posting about my workout routine and what I’m specifically doing at home, with very little equipment, to help get you started with your own exercise routine.

All the best to you,

Cindy

“Dear Fat People” Response

2010 to 2015, Cindy Chu

 

I’ve been wanting to write something re: the whole “Dear Fat People” hateful rant video and here I am…

So I used to be a little heavier. The pic on the left is from 2010. I was still happy then, too. The only big difference was I wasn’t making time for myself to keep health a priority. I was always tired and a flight of stairs made me winded. I always ate what I craved, and also mindlessly snacked at work on production jobs where I had to sit for 12-15 hours a day.

“a flight of stairs made me winded”


It wasn’t until 2012 when I saw a good friend change his habits and drop 40 pounds I didn’t know he had to lose that I even thought it was possible for me to get to a healthier place, too.

It’s not easy to keep myself on a workout routine or to choose healthier meals when I’m out, because life is short and sometimes we want to be lazy or eat delicious, rich food.

But I decided in 2012 that it was possible to lose weight, and then in 2013 I decided it was possible to get in better physical shape so that I can run up and down stairs without feeling like I couldn’t breathe, and to feel healthier and stronger and in control of my body.

I did have to make a lot of changes in my habits to get to where I’m at today and I’m still not done. I have goals like “do a pull-up from a dead hang” or “do a one-armed push-up”, etc, and build a better core. But the key here is I’m doing it for me. I’m doing this because it’s what I want. It makes me feel stronger and healthier.

But at the end of the day, humans come in all shapes and sizes! And that is OK! There are people bigger than me or with a higher BMI who are stronger and fitter than me. I know friends who some may say are fuller-figured who can run marathons around me and I wouldn’t be able to keep up at all. And you’re all beautiful.

If you aren’t feeling your healthiest, you can make changes. If you feel awesome and are happy where you’re at, don’t change or crumble because some terrible person judged you who doesn’t even know you. Be the best you for yourself and others, and don’t worry about the rest.

Being skinny isn’t some amazing feat to brag about, and nor is making people who are different than you feel less than.

****************************************************************

This above post was taken word for word from a Facebook post I made recently. I have decided to start blogging about health and beauty and will be posting updates about what exactly I do to stay in shape now. You can get a sneak peek from my first Periscope post:

Cindy Chu Periscope Post re: “Dear Fat People”

You never know people’s stories, so don’t make assumptions about their laziness or think they don’t have feelings about their bodies. We all have body hangups, and negativity doesn’t help. Be encouraging, be helpful, be positive. It’ll go a lot farther than a mean video, and I’m not talking about views.

 

Let’s all love our bodies!