Growing trends of the natural and organic products industry // Natural Products Expo West 2016

IMG_6632The US-market of natural and organic products is a $153 billion industry and showing no signs of a slow down. Mainly driven by the consistent growth of consumers demanding natural, healthy and eco-conscious products, it’s no surprise that this mega industry has a plethora of new companies emerging every year.

Last month I had the delightful opportunity to attend the 36th annual Natural Products Expo West, the the world’s largest natural, organic and healthy products event. It was like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory. As a healthy lifestyle enthusiast, I grasped all the natural product consumer trends, channeled my inner Augustus Gloop meets Michelle Phan–indulging in food samples while swatching beauty products. It was a weekend filled with tastings, education and meeting wonderful brands. I was among 77,000 attendees perusing more than 3,000 exhibitors at the Anaheim Convention Center. I didn’t have my Fitbit on me, but I’m sure I logged some serious miles that weekend.


Photo courtesy of

Below is an overview of some consumer trends surrounding the healthy lifestyle products industry.

Back to Our Roots: Quinoa, chia, acai, Kombucha, raw, sprouted, coconut oil–superfood ingredients and preparation techniques that date back to the days of pre-industrialized foods. Brands are focusing on natural, whole and nutrient-dense ingredients. The skincare industry mirrors this trend with using pure ingredients like argan and coconut oil. I met a brand, Cocokind, an organic skincare line centered around using virgin coconut oil and superfoods. Consumers are conscientious with ingredients they eat and use on their body. They are staying away from genetically modified foods, artificial colors, preservatives, parabens and products tested on animals.

The Busy Individual: The always on-the-go individual lacks time, but craves smart and nutritious fuel in-between meals. Think hand-held snacks and drinks that are convenient, delicious and healthy. I like to kick-off my morning with drinking my greens with a Suja Juice cold-pressed juice. On a side note: I’m thinking of doing a juice cleanse to reset my body. Any advice or recommendations for which juice brand to try? A new product I’ve discovered are meat and veggie bars from Wild Zora and Wilde Snacks. It’s healthier than conventional jerkies because they are free from nitrites, nitrates, MSG, not too salty, contain vegetables, use grass-fed, free-range and hormone-free meats. I’m a big snacker and sometimes crave a meaty snack high in protein and low in sodium. Read my favorite snack discovery last year here.

The Socially Conscious Shopper: The today consumers have conscious living woven into the fabric of their lives and making informed decisions by keeping the environment and mission-backed products in mind. They choose purposeful brands with ethical practices and sustainable packaging over its conventional counterparts. I met a brand, This Bar Saves Lives, that donates a life-saving food packet with every snack bar purchased. It’s the “buy one, give one” philosophy, fair trade practices and donating proceeds to non-profits that allow consumers to make an impact with each purchase.

Over the next several weeks I’ll be sharing with you my tried and true favorite products from the expo.

I ran a 200-mile race // ragnar relay so cal // fitness

I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD

We ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD

I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD

Our finisher medals connected together say, “Together we ran 200 miles.”

I never thought I’d ever do it, but I ran a 200-mile relay race as part of the Ragnar Relay So Cal race 2015. Our team came in #42 and ran it in 26 hours and 22 mins. As much as this race was lengthy, it taught me a lot about endurance and pushing my mental and physical limits.

It’s been about a year since and even now just the thought of running a race that starts at Huntington Beach to San Diego is exhausting! It’s what crazy people do, right? In all seriousness, it was actually one of the best and challenging experiences. The race was well-organized, scenic routes, energetic crowds and spirited team members made it all worth it.

It’s been a longtime dream of Wayne’s and my good friend Jason made it happen for us! Jason was the super team captain and master organizer of this beast of a race. We didn’t have to worry because as a veteran of the race he had all the binders, splits and routes mapped out. Best of all, our 12-person relay team represented all the Harry Potter houses in matching outfits. I was team Hufflepuff and was just too cool running in knee high socks, yellow and blue striped tie and a wand–casting spells against other runners.

My three legs were a cumulative 14 miles and had its own sets of challenges. I ran in the mid-day heat in the Santa Ana river channel for 7 hard miles, enjoyed the dark midnight hours and nature’s noises in Laguna Niguel and experienced the sunrise rays of along the beach in San Diego. The most challenging part? Staying up for around 30+ hours and doing my best to be physically functioning to race hard.

It was an energy like no other and my team members were the most spirited, supporting and encouraging group of individuals. We tag-teamed providing water support where there was car access, squeezed in a Taiwanese dinner between van shifts and took turns napping in 20-minute increments, if possible. The team medals were pretty wicked. The 12 medals also came together like a puzzle to read, “Together we ran 200-miles.”

The photos need no explanation. Pure excitement. Spirited Away. Full adrenaline.

Best. Race. Ever.

Just don’t ask me to do it again.

I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD

What I packed in my race bag for two days

I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD

Awesome gear designed by Jason 🙂

I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD

Suit up!

I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD


I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD

My lucky gnome charm

I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD

I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD

My night run. My favorite leg.

I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD

Pre-dawn sunrise in San Diego

I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD

Our awesome van

I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD

Van decor on fleek

I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD

{ bargain } Free Museum Admission Nationwide

Free museum admission first wknd of every month via It's Jou Life blog -

Photos by Wayne // The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Free museum admission first wknd of every month via It's Jou Life blog -

Beautiful outdoor space // The MET, New York

Museum lovers listen up!
As part of Bank of America’s Museums on Us program, the first full weekend of every month (this weekend!) Bank of America or Merrill Lynch cardholders get FREE general admission at 150 participating museums, science centers, botanical gardens and more nationwide! It includes places like LAMCA, The San Diego Museum of Art, de Young Museum in Los Angeles; The MET and MOMA (!) in New York and so many more! All you need is a photo ID and your Bank of America card or Merrill Lynch card.

If you’re curious, there are also other museums on the list nationwide – You can sign up for email and text alerts and they’ll send reminders before the qualifying weekend.

Let the adventures begin!

Free museum admission first wknd of every month via It's Jou Life blog - museum admission first wknd of every month via It's Jou Life blog - museum admission first wknd of every month via It's Jou Life blog - museum admission first wknd of every month via It's Jou Life blog -

{ events } A Labor of Love — Harvest Moon Festival 2014

Harvest Moon Festival 2014 - Free event 9/7/14, Arcadia, 11am-5pm |

Free Event | Sunday, September 7, 2014 | 11am – 5pm | Arcadia County Park (405 S. Santa Anita Ave, Arcadia, CA)

Drawing large crowds from across Southern California, LA 18 hosts the most exciting festival of the season.

Equivalent to Thanksgiving, the Harvest Moon Festival is a holiday celebrated by many Asian communities and revolves around the family, the provision of bountiful food and the full moon. Enjoy a family-filled FREE event with Asian street foods, live entertainment, cultural activities, shopping and prize giveaways. Entertainment includes performances by Quest CrewDavid ChoiJason Chen, Dan aka Dan, Joseph Vincent, Johnny HiFi and cultural dance performances. There will also be cash prize giveaways every hour starting at 1pm! 🙂 You can win up to $500!

The HMF holds a special place in my heart. This event was a labor of love when I worked at LA 18 KSCI-TV (Channel 18) many moons ago. I was the Entertainment Stage Manager for several years and I’ve seen it grow in attendance, sponsors and helped introduce food trucks (before they came in every color) and invigorated the talent line-up to include fresh, local and popular performing artists like Quest Crew, Far East Movement, David Choi, Jason Chen, Jennifer Chung, Clara C, Melissa Polinar, just a taste. (I LOVE their music/dance!) I’m a big fan girl of all these artists and have been humbled to have had the priviledge to work with them in past years. 

I return this year not as an employee, but as the volunteer day-of Entertainment Stage Manager. I’m filled to the brim with excitement and to dive back into collaborating with the emcees, cueing the performers, ensuring the stage is smoothly running on time (I hope!), catching up with local (and incredibly talented) Asian-American performers and working alongside former colleagues that I’ve always respected. The months leading up to event day haven’t always been easy, but come festival day with the tireless efforts of the festival team and volunteers, everything finds its place and the long days of meetings, crunching numbers, researching, writing, finalizing details, soon become a distant memory. There’s something truly beautiful about planning an event for the community. It’s creating a vision with our audience in mind, working towards goals and seeing the fruits of our labor in action. Best of all, it’s executing a free event that attendees of all ages can enjoy and are appreciated by those who make our great city diverse and cultured.

I know the day may not go smoothly as planned. There will be last-minute changes and unforeseen surprises, but I know God will provide me the strength and energy to power through all obstacles no matter how big or small, while allowing me to take a breather and appreciate Southern California’s gorgeous weather, the people and enjoy the festivities. 

For those in the area, please stop by! Feel free to text me, I’d love to see you and share a moon cake together. 

Last year’s HMF 2013