ALL The Ramen!

Sendai ramen

As a result of my Japanese heritage, my palate has always been primed for ramen.  I’m not talking about the economical dried version which has become a rescue meal for most monetarily challenged college students (admittedly, I availed myself of this habit when I was a struggling college student and also holding down two jobs).  I’m talking about authentic, Japanese ramen which can be found in ramen houses in Japantown areas around the United States, as well as ramen shops and yatai (stalls) throughout Japan.  A steaming bowl of authentic Japanese ramen is a masterpiece, full of slurpy golden noodles, briny broth, meat, and vegetables, irresistible and unforgettable.

There are over 32,000 ramen houses throughout Japan, and there are enough ramen varieties and regional variations to steep your fascination for this delectable soup.  It is quite common to see long lines of people spilling onto the street in anticipation of a bowl of heaven from the more popular noodle joints.

In the months leading up to my trip to Japan, which took place in March of 2020, ramen was the dish I was the most excited about eating while in my maternal grandparents’ native land.  Even though I am supposed to avoid wheat and eggs, I was NOT about to deprive myself of ramen while in Japan.  I ended up paying the price every single time I consumed a bowl of ramen, developing abdominal cramping within 20 minutes after ingesting each bowl of those incredible noodles.  Then the next day, I was ready to eat more ramen, even though I knew full well that my belly would writhe in digestive protest.

There wasn’t a single bowl of ramen I had while in Japan that was less than spectacular, and I truly got a kick out of the bizarre yet efficient way in which most ramen houses had their patrons order (basically, you order from a station and pay through it as well, without any human interaction).  I was also intrigued by the distinct regional variations which popped up depending on what prefecture I was visiting.  Curious about the main types?  Click here to learn more.

Sapporo Ramen…miso base with ground chicken, crabmeat

I quickly noticed that in Sapporo, miso ramen was featured in many of the ramen-ya.  And before you think it’s just a basic miso, noodle masters add in fresh garlic and ginger and simmer with pork broth for an unbelievably tasty concoction.

Kyoto Ramen

Kyoto Ramen

I had both shoyu ramen (first image above) and miso ramen while in Kyoto, and loved both.  Then as I headed further south, I encountered creamy, extremely flavorful broth.  In Okayama, I encountered a specific type of  tonkotsu style broth, made from slow simmered pork, but with Okayama-specific seasonings.  Delicious.

Okayama ramen

Then I arrived in Kumamoto, my grandmother’s birthplace, and noticed that the ramen houses featured a very milky, rich, flavorful broth which was also made from pork bones for many hours.  Though I am not a big consumer of pork, I was happy to ingest it daily as part of my almost daily ramen indulgence.

Obviously with all the ramen around, I didn’t follow a low carb diet.  In fact, I had rice balls to snack on whenever I rode the shinkansen (bullet train), and I had a devil of a time finding high protein meals or snacks of any kind.  So I just allowed myself to enjoy the constant carb bump for 2 weeks straight. If you ever travel to Japan, don’t deprive yourself of ramen, rice, mochi, manju, and other carb-heavy foods.  You will be moving around so much during the day that you will burn off the carbs pretty steadily.

I’m A Jasmin Influencer!

I am so thrilled to be a Jasmin Influencer!  I have been with them since early December, and I have a blast creating highlights for the site and posting every day.  Yes that’s right, every single day, even on holidays and weekends!

Please follow me at www.Jasmin.com/staceynaito  and check out my highlights and daily story elements!  You can also direct message me anytime through the site, and I also make myself available for Video Calls for a pocket of time every day.

Topics I cover include:

Dating

Relationship

Soul Mate

Fitness

Flirt Advice

Beauty

Lifestyle

Travel

Fashion

I haven’t posted anything on Dance, but who knows?  I may talk about my three year stint with salsa dancing on the Jasmin platform!

You can sign up for FREE and get 15 FREE CREDITS!

 

I am also always open to suggestions on topics which you would like to have me cover.  Want more nutrition tips?  Beauty hacks?  Travel deals? Relaxation techniques?  On the go workouts?  You tell me, I’m open!

Why Influencer Marketing Is Key In The Fitness Industry

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Influencer marketing has become an integral part of our modern culture, and is increasing in popularity as a way for businesses to capture new customers to purchase their products and services. Since the fitness industry is particularly visually centered, and also because it tends to sit on the cutting edge of brand marketing, many of my fitness friends and I have been able to forge long-standing relationships with brands as we bring awareness to their products, while also solidifying our relationships with our followers. It’s a wonderful symbiosis in which everyone wins – the brand has powerful advertising via social media portals, the influencer is able to garner the loyalty of fans by promoting respected items, and the followers are introduced to new and exciting products, usually with an associated discount as a thank you from the influencer and the company which is selling the product.

One critical component to success with influencer marketing, regardless of whether you are a company or an individual influencer, is to be willing and able to adjust to the changes which tend to occur across social media platforms. For example, Instagram and Facebook fairly recently implemented certain regulations on how a post should be tagged, and such regulations are always subject to change. It is vital to stay abreast of guideline changes as they come down the pike.

Another important aspect of influencer marketing is that influencers should be genuinely passionate about the brands they represent. A prime reason why social media marketing is so popular is that followers believe in the influencers they follow, and they want sound, honest advice on what merchandise or services they can purchase which will enable them to reach their fitness goals. Followers want to know what products an influencer has used to obtain his or her enviable physique, what fitness apparel is the most comfortable, functional and flattering, etc. The more honest an influencer is, the more the audience appreciates any recommendations made by that person.

Dr. Stacey Naito

In a similar vein, companies which turn to social media influencers to promote their products or services meet with the best success when they like the influencer’s overall vibe and messages, as well as the target audience which the influencer has built via social media. Fitness influencers of varying ages can also help to expand brand awareness for a company, as can influencers who have a unique perspective (moms, senior citizens, people with diabetes, etc.).

There are many athletes and fitness professionals who essentially fell into the world of brand influencership, partially because they were well-respected by their fitness peers, but mostly because they behaved with integrity and were transparent with their fans and followers about their experiences and struggles with training, diet, and performance. It makes a huge difference when an athlete speaks from the heart, and such candor helps to build up the brands he or she represents. From a personal perspective, I have never endorsed or promoted a brand or product which I did not wholeheartedly believe in, and I know my followers can tell that I am forthright and honest when I post YouTube reviews, blogposts, etc.

We certainly live in a very different age now, one in which people expect different options for their exercise regimens and meal plans. For example, fitness apps are incredibly popular, especially since most of them have tracking software built in so that a user can enter in goals and track progress. Other people specifically want at-home workouts because they either don’t want to join a gym, or don’t feel comfortable working out in a public environment. That’s where some popular fitness influencers can guide followers to workouts they can perform while they are in the comfort of their own homes.

If you are the owner of a fitness-minded company, and you haven’t explored the world of brand influencer marketing, doing so could take your brand to the next level. For aspiring fitness brand influencers, make sure the brands you post on your profile are congruent with what your followers want to see. As long as you are consistent and honest with your marketing, chances are your brand and your following will steadily grow.

I don’t want children — stop telling me I’ll change my mind | Christen Reighter

I absolutely love this TED Talk by Christen Reighter, who talks about the resistance she met with when attempting to obtain approval for tubal ligation. There are two statements in particular which struck me:

“I’ve always believed that having children was an extension of womanhood, not the definition.”

“I believe that a woman’s value should never be determined by whether or not she has a child, because that strips her of her entire identity as an adult unto herself.”

The resistance which Ms. Reighter encountered during her consultations for tubal ligation was unfounded in both my opinion as a woman, and also as a physician. It’s astonishing how medical colleagues refused to hear her argument for the ligation, and how her primary doctor kept insisting that she would change her mind at some point. What infuriates me even more was that the doctors abused medical paternalism, infusing their own beliefs about what a woman might be feeling about the idea of motherhood, and essentially stripping this woman of her rights.

Similar to what Christen Reighter believes, I have never bought into the lie that it has been my duty as a woman to have children. I have always bristled when people would try to pressure me to start a family. I have received this pressure from my family and feel that this is appropriate, but I have also been pressured by friends, patients, acquaintances and complete strangers. What is with the intense societal pressure to create progeny?

I have never experienced anything more than a brief and passing curiosity about the idea of having a child, and now that I am post-menopausal, I no longer have to concern myself with it. I don’t feel that I am incomplete or less of a woman because I chose not to have a mini-me. I essentially chose to be childless for a number of reasons, and I had the right to make that decision regardless of what anyone else thought.

Bravo to Christen Reighter for proclaiming her strong beliefs and standing her ground.

Rapunzels Are In Vogue

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Super long hair is in fashion these days, so much so that ladies who are unable to grow their hair as long as they want have been sporting extensions to produce the desired long locks. It’s been interesting hearing people comment on my hair, which I had decided to grow out again, because people who haven’t known me for long think it’s a new thing. Well, it’s not. I have always sported extremely long hair past my waist since I was a young child, and at one point in my 20’s, my hair was so long that not only would I sit on the ends, but other people sitting next to me would accidentally pin me down, and I would have to ask them to release my hair.

The longest my hair ever got was in 1991…

I know it sounds strange, but to me, my hair at this point almost seems short,compared to that time in the early 90’s when my hair was at its longest. Here’s where my hair was length-wise in June, and then in August of this year:

My hair in June 2019

By August 2019, my hair was this long, and this was even after a trim!

I still look at images of women with crazy long hair (past the gluteal fold), and find some appeal in it, but I honestly don’t know if it would drive me nuts to carry around such a long span of keratin everywhere. Let’s face it, long hair gets in the way, it’s heavy, it makes the nape of the neck hot during the summer, and caring for long hair requires some extra effort to keep it looking its healthiest. I’m not even sure my hair would reach the same length where I had it in 1991, but I suspect I’d get so sick and tired of the maintenance that I would opt for a shorter, more manageable length.

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I will say that women with very long hair do stand out. Long hair is special, it’s beautiful, and not everyone can rock a Rapunzel-length mane. I think anyone with beautiful, healthy hair who wants to grow it out should do it, even if they later decide that sporting a scarf of hair isn’t for them.

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There is also a fair amount of versatility with long hair. It can be coiled into an elegant updo, crafted into a half-up, half-down hairstyle which is fashionable and pretty, swept up into a ponytail, braided, or left loose and free. In addition, long hair makes a handy shawl or scarf if one is caught in brisk weather without a sweater or coat. Believe me, I have used my hair as insulation from cold air many times over the years!

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Lastly, there is something so romantic about very long hair. Women with uber long hair aren’t afraid to express themselves as women. A sharp contrast to pixie hair styles, long hair evokes tremendous femininity. What’s strange, though, is how oppressed the literary character Rapunzel was. She was held captive by a witch in a tower, and her only hope of escape was to find a rescuer who would have to climb up her incredibly long hair to rescue her. Eventually Rapunzel cuts her hair, which apparently symbolizes cutting ties with a maternal figure. Wow, heavy stuff.

I suspect that I will sport extremely long hair, at least waist-length, for as long as I live. I’ve spent the majority of my life with long hair as part of my signature style, and I don’t plan to change that style by chopping my strands.

My First (and Delicious) Experience With Trade Coffee Subscription

DrinkTrade.com site

Though I am not desperately reliant on a daily cup of joe to get me through each morning, I thoroughly enjoy a delicious, aromatic cup of high quality coffee. When it comes to undoubtedly the most well-known coffee store chain (you know, the ones with the telltale green logo on the storefront?), I honestly can’t drink their blends, because they are harsh, bitter, and lack the flavor nuances I want from a truly top-notch coffee.

Enter the coffees which are offered by Trade. Established in 2018, Trade offers a unique, customized experience which I totally dig. Trade unites the nation’s top roasters directly with coffee lovers, and includes over 400 roasted-to-order coffees in their selections. It’s like a dating site, but with coffee! You get matched by answering questions about your level of coffee knowledge, roasting method (coffee maker, French press, pour over, cold brew, Chemex), flavor preferences, and they will make a suggestion for you. If you don’t like your very first match, they will find you one you love. You get to rate coffees as you go along, you’ll get 15% off bags as long as you have a subscription, and you will always get free shipping.

The other thing I love about Trade is that they only offer specialty coffee, a term which refers to any coffee that receives a quality grading score of 80 percent or higher. I guess I might have to consider myself a coffee snob, since I prefer to drink higher quality, tasty coffees over bitter, low grade coffees.

When I ordered my first bag of coffee from Trade, I sort of went by feel for the flavor notes I would like in a coffee selection, and because Trade has taken the guesswork out of shopping by grouping coffees based on “popular taste types”, the process was pretty easy. If you don’t want to browse the selections like I did, you can let Trade match you with a coffee which they think you’ll love.

As I scrolled down the screen, “Comforting and Rich” and “Chocolaty and Sweet” both caught my eye, since I like a rich, flavorful, inviting coffee over something fruity or bright. My eyes alighted on “Eclipse” by Onyx Coffee Lab, which is described as:

“Dark and sultry, subtly smoky, this coffee absolutely smolders with rich, chocolaty depth and vanilla sweetness. Perfect sipped solo, but works beautifully with your milk of choice.”

Screenshot from drinktrade.com of Eclipse by Onyx

After reading that description, my immediate thought was, oh yes, I’m in! So I ordered it without hesitation.

When the coffee arrived, the aromas which emanated from the box were so deep, rich, chocolaty and smoky that I had to restrain myself from making a cup right then and there, since it was about 11 pm and I needed to get some sleep! So I tucked that bag of coffee in a safe spot (I live with coffee lovers and didn’t want my new gem to be attacked by them) and went off to sleep. A couple of days later, I opened the bag, and was rewarded with the most delectable wave of chocolaty goodness, and it just smelled so FRESH! I looked at the bag and saw the roasting date and roaster’s initials on one panel, which proved right there how fresh it truly was.

Roasting date and roaster’s initials right on the bag

Delectable coffee right here!

I brewed a large cup, refrained from adding any creamer so I could get the true taste of the coffee, and took a sip. Oh. My. Goodness. The tasting notes for me were mostly deep, smoky, and chocolaty, which I loved. There was no bitterness to this coffee, which is a big plus for me because I can’t stand bitterness in my brews. The sweetness level in this selection is very subtle, which is fine for me. So now my biggest concern is where I can hide these awesome grinds so no one ever finds them before I finish the bag!

What is even more exciting than experiencing my first coffee selection from Trade is knowing that I can look forward to other delicious and aromatic coffees in the ensuing months which will be delivered to my home. I highly recommend Trade for anyone who loves coffee and wants to try different superior quality coffees from top roasters across the United States.

To subscribe to Trade, go to this link:

https://www.drinktrade.com/subscribe

Cool Your Tatas

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I just heard about an odd, yet very appealing product which is sold by Polar Products, a company which specializes in body cooling and hot and cold therapy. Under the section entitled “Women’s Health”, among all the cooling vests, scarves, etc., are Bra Coolers. These nifty cotton pockets house small cold packs which can be placed on the underside of each breast inside your bra to keep your girls cool. This would be especially delightful for larger chested ladies who often have overhang issues, which can be pretty uncomfortable in hot weather.

I think I need these for my next trip to Thailand!

Click on this link to check it out:

https://www.polarproducts.com/polarshop/pc/Pair-of-Cool58-Bra-Coolers-p258.htm

Are There Really 52 Genders?

Back in the day, the topic of gender boiled down to biology, defined by one’s sex chromosomes. XX, and you were female, XY, and you were male. Chromosomal disorders such as XO,XXX, XXXX, XXXXX resulted in individuals who possessed female genitalia, while XXY, XXXY, XY/XXY, XYY aberrations resulted in the expression of male genitalia. True hermaphroditism (1), in which both female and male genitals or a hybrid of them exist, is exceedingly rare, so much so that there has never really been a pressing need for a third gender box.

In recent years, however, there has been so much debate and confusion regarding gender versus sexual orientation and identity, that surveys are jumping on the bandwagon to appease to this new crop of outspoken individuals. Biology has abruptly taken a backseat to sexual identity, with all its permutations and definitions. And don’t you dare try to argue biology with the new sexual order, either.

Call me old school, but if we are talking about biology, then there are MALES and FEMALES. For the purposes of the general human population, such genetic definitions accommodate the vast majority of individuals. So if a questionnaire or survey asks someone to check off a GENDER box, it shouldn’t be an insult to a person to mark one of those two boxes. Yet the new millennial order has eschewed biology, turning the query into a chance to declare specific social-sexual preferences. I have never been offended by the standard gender question, and cannot understand how some people insist on applying flawed logic and getting bent out of shape over it.

If gender is such a difficult issue in today’s society, then why do so many couples post gender reveals on social media? It’s either a boy, or a girl, period. Traditionally, when a survey asked for your gender for classification purposes, it wasn’t asking about your bedroom habits. Now it’s a wide open door for people to declare their defiance and independence from a staid society which has been sexually repressed for far too long. It’s suddenly cool when gathering demographic information to inquire about a person’s whole social identity.

I was prompted to write about this topic when I was asked to complete a profile for a social influencer platform. When I reached the gender section, I saw that it was FIVE PAGES LONG. There were 52 different gender choices. I was stunned. This wasn’t a gender question. This was a social-sexual labels question. And it truly annoyed me. It’s not like I have a problem with the labels, I just have a problem with them being referred to as genders. I also don’t quite understand how transgender people suddenly became so ANGRY at the world.

Honestly, many of the labels are redundant, and one in particular should not be used by the majority of the nonbinary public. Say someone identifies as the following:

AFAB (assigned female at birth)
Female to male
FTM
Trans male
Trans man
Transgender male
Transgender man
Transmasculine
Transsexual male
Transsexual man

Guess what? They all (except for AFAB, which already implies that the individual has rejected their biological origin) say the SAME THING.

Also, anyone who refers to themselves as Two-spirit has no right to use that label unless they truly are members of the indigenous Native American community from which the phrase originated. Here’s the description of “Two-spirit”:

Two-Spirit (also two spirit or, occasionally, twospirited) is a modern, pan-Indian, umbrella term used by some Indigenous North Americans to describe Native people in their communities who fulfill a traditional third-gender (or other gender-variant) ceremonial role in their cultures.

The term two-spirit was created in 1990 at the Indigenous lesbian and gay international gathering in Winnipeg, and “specifically chosen to distinguish and distance Native American/First Nations people from non-Native peoples.” The primary purpose of coining a new term was to encourage the replacement of the outdated and considered offensive, anthropological term, berdache. While this new term has not been universally accepted—it has been criticized by traditional communities who already have their own terms for the people being grouped under this new term, and by those who reject what they call the “western” binary implications, such as implying that Natives believe these individuals are “both male and female”—it has generally received more acceptance and use than the anthropological term it replaced.

“Two Spirit” is not interchangeable with “LGBT Native American” or “Gay Indian”; rather, it was intended, despite being in English, to carry on the traditional meanings of the terms in Indigenous languages for the culturally-specific ceremonial roles that are recognized and confirmed by the Elders of the two-spirit’s ceremonial community. Opinions vary as to whether or not this objective has succeeded. Often incorrectly used as a synonym for “LGBT Native”, the term and identity of two-spirit “does not make sense” unless it is contextualized within a Native American or First Nations framework and traditional cultural understanding. However, the gender-nonconforming, LGBT, or third and fourth gender, ceremonial roles traditionally embodied by Native American and FNIM people, intended to be under the modern umbrella of two-spirit, can vary widely, even among the Indigenous people who accept the English-language term. No one Native American/First Nations’ culture’s gender or sexuality categories apply to all, or even a majority of, these cultures.

Oh, and Two-spirit is NOT a gender per biological standards either.

It’s fine if someone doesn’t want to be pigeonholed into a stereotypical gender description, and identifies as being transgender. In fact, there is legislation which aims to designate X as a gender marker for nonbinary and transgender individuals, and apparently, this option is available on birth certificates issued in the Canadian province of Ontario. However, I rail against the idea that the standard gender question on surveys and other forms must add a whole mess of redundant descriptions of sexual and social behavior.

REFERENCES:

1. A Human Intersex (“True Hermaphrodite”) with XX/XXY/XXYYY Sex Chromosomes
Fraccaro M.a · Taylor A.I.b · Bodian M.b · Newns G.H.b. Cytogenetics 1962;1:104–112
https://doi.org/10.1159/000129719