2023 so far…

I had every intention of writing a blog post at the start of the year. I started it but it sat in my drafts because life got in the way. Probably like most people, I started the year quite hopeful and I was ready to have a great year. I even made a 2023 mood/vision board! I was so excited for this year as I had some fun things planned but instead, the first 2 and a half months of this year has thrown me quite a few curveballs. What a rollercoaster it has been already and it’s only March! So while I’m currently sick with Covid and had some time to rest and think, I finally finished this blog post, although it’s quite different to what I initially thought I’d post.

As I said above, I’m sick and currently have Covid-19 again. I got it from attending a concert (more on this later) but whilst I was sick in bed, I had a lot of time to think. I find blogging here quite therapeutic and it’s a place for me to overshare how it has been for me the past few months. This is where I can brain dump so here we go:


I thought I’d start with this because it has been the biggest curveball thrown at me so far this year. I’ve previously shared when I had issues with my B12 a few years ago and so far I’ve been managing that and haven’t really had issues since. Last month, a had a light bulb moment when I realised I’m not 100% okay. Individually, I thought these changes weren’t a big deal but when combined, I knew something is wrong. I then booked a doctor’s appointment to check.

My first blood test results came up with high cortisol levels. They were quite high that I had to get further tested for Cushing’s Syndrome. If you don’t know what cortisol is, it’s our stress hormone so my body was in high stress and basically was in fight or flight mode. I even told my doctor that I’m not stressed at my initial appointment. Work isn’t stressful, I have a work/life balance, I work out 3-4x a week etc. However, my blood test results showed the opposite.

Some symptoms of high cortisol are:

  • weight gain, especially around face, midsection/belly
  • acne
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • headaches
  • difficulty concentrating
  • increased heart rate
  • easy bruising
  • sleep problems
  • high blood pressure

I definitely experienced a few, if not all of those. Whilst I was glad to have some answers, the possibility of having Cushing’s Syndrome which is a condition caused by too much cortisol in the body scared me. I googled it (I don’t recommend) and it’s a serious condition that may require radiation and/or surgery. I had to get tested for it and thankfully it came back that it’s unlikely I have it. The next step for me was to try ways to lower my cortisol which involves:

  • Eating breakfast – I usually skip breakfast and have coffee first thing in the morning or have breakfast around 10am. I’ve changed this so I now I eat early, most of the time as soon as I get up.
  • Don’t drink coffee on an empty stomach – apparently this is one of the main things that trigger a spike in cortisol so now I have coffee only after I’ve eaten breakfast. I only drink 1 coffee a day and some days, I’ll skip coffee altogether.
  • No high intensity workouts – I’ve written about how much I love spin/cycle classes and I used to go 3-4x a week. It’s a high intensity exercise for me and it probably didn’t help with my cortisol levels so since then, I haven’t been. I miss it so much and I’m upset about it because it was the workout I’ve loved and enjoyed over the past few years. I’m hoping I get to go back to spin at least once a week but for now I’m going to do low intensity workouts first. my heart rate during spin classes go up to 186bpm and I thought that was normal! (it isn’t).
  • Go for morning walks – instead of a spin class, I have been getting up early and heading to the beach for a nice morning walk. This is my form of exercise at the moment and a way to get some sunshine and adjust my circadian rhythm. This has been a great change to my routine. I love starting my day with this walk. I try to put a morning meditation on and slowly wake myself up, ready for the rest of the day. I wish I’ve done morning walks sooner as I live close to the beach!
  • Snacking throughout the day – I’ve learnt that snacking throughout the day helps manage cortisol levels and not eating or leaving hours between meals make our blood sugar and cortisol spike up. I love snacks anyway but the shift is to have healthier snacks like nuts etc.
  • Healthy food – I don’t eat terribly (I don’t eat fast food etc) but I do love food and need to eat more greens. We did FreshStart meals for a while to have healthier dinners and I need to keep it up with more cortisol-friendly food.

Overall, the changes above aren’t that hard. I’m mostly upset by not being able to go to spin but I need to put my health first and try other things so I can feel better again. I’ve swapped to walks, a weights class and potentially I might try yoga.

I thought finding out I have high cortisol was it. However, I had another spanner in the works as my tests came back as having high copper levels! This was an absolute shock to me as I would’ve never thought about this being a problem. This really threw me off because I don’t know how I have high copper levels, how long I’ve had it and what caused it.

Some symptoms of high copper are:

  • headache
  • fatigue
  • aching muscles
  • stomach pain
  • ringing in ears
  • skin sensitivity
  • abnormally fast heartrate
  • changes in mood
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • difficulty focusing
  • sleep problems

There are some overlaps with high cortisol and I definitely have experienced some, if not most of the high copper symptoms too. The problem I have with high copper is I don’t know exactly know how to manage it as I don’t know what caused it. We’re trying to balance it with zinc (as per my doctor) but other than that, I had to look at why I have high copper levels. It could be from water (I now have a water filter just in case), cooking pans (we don’t use copper pans), supplements (I don’t take any that has copper), food (I don’t think I eat such high concentrations to warrant such a high level) or a copper IUD (I don’t have this).

This result has baffled me and I just hope that the small changes I’ve made since going to the doctors will eventually lower both levels. I will need to get tested in a few months to recheck my levels but all I can do right now is to try manage it.

I highly recommend getting checked if you notice any difference to your body, moods etc. If I didn’t notice my hair was thinning when I used to have such thick and fast-growing hair, I probably wouldn’t have realised there was something wrong. It took a physical change for me to notice that something was off. Then it also clicked that I have been so moody and irritable, I have been way more emotional, I get more anxious and I haven’t been able to sleep well at night too. I know I’ve written so much about my health but it has been the biggest thing I’ve been dealing with. Our health is so important. I wish there was an easy solution but I will I’m going to try my best to manage these levels and hopefully will feel better over time.


Last thing about health is I currently have Covid (I had covid for the first time back in June last year after our Qtown trip) which isn’t great on top of the health issues I’ve noted above. I went to the Harry Styles concert last week which was awesome but it’s not surprising that I caught the virus again. There were thousands of people at Mt Smart Stadium last week and leaving the concert, I was sandwiched amongst hordes of people. It started out with a sore throat which I initially thought was from the screaming and singing out loud but it didn’t go away and it got worse. I had a sore throat and ear ache then led to a runny and blocked nose. I actually tested negative for 4 days after the concert before finally getting the fastest positive line on the test. I still have a blocked nose but I feel a bit better and at least have more energy (enough to finish this blog post).

Now that the more negative part is out of the way, I’ll move on to better things. I know this post is long already due to my ramblings above but I always want to end things on a positive note. When I initially planned on writing this post, it was meant to be my 2023 plans/goals. It’s March now and this post has changed to more of a life update. This next part is some of the things I’m looking forward to.


This was the most exciting part of 2023 for me. This is the year I will go on a big trip overseas and what I’ve been saving up for months now. I even made this vision board below at the start of the year:

The main part of my 2023 vision board was travel. This year I’m going on a big trip to Europe! I’ve been so excited about this trip and the past few months, we finally locked in our flights and accommodation. I even have a travel Excel spreadsheet to be more organised! Some of the photos above will give the places away. I won’t give any more details about this trip, as I’m sure I will blog about it eventually. We don’t have everything planned out yet but I know it will work out eventually. I just can’t wait to go now and have a European summer since NZ barely got a summer season.

The items at the bottom are some of the things in my wishlist. I don’t expect to get them all but it’s nice to have an idea of what I want and potentially can get while I’m in Europe (if I save enough extra money haha).

Te Reo

I am re-starting my Level 3 & 4 Te Reo course this year! I started it last year but due to covid, we were put in a Zoom class and it wasn’t possible to continue when face to face classes came back because the class was based up North. I had to withdraw and re-enroll this year. Sadly, I will be missing my first class as I have covid this week but I am looking forward to continuing my learning! I’m so rusty and I learn better being in a classroom environment so I’m glad to continue my te reo journey.

So some of the things I had planned at the start of the year ended up happening already so here are the highlights so far:


I ended up having a staycation on my birthday. Sometime last year, I won a stay at Naumi hotel. They have a few hotels around NZ but I opted to go to the Auckland one because it was easy and I needed to use my free stay. The hotel is actually lovely. We were put in the blush pink room which was more bright pink than blush pink but it was nice. The bed was comfy, the bathroom had a big tub, Dyson hairdryer and GHD straightener and there are also complimentary drinks/snacks in the room. We had dinner in the hotel bar and they had a lolly and popcorn station too!


In mid-January, we went up north and stayed in Ruakākā. Max had the campervan and we stayed at the campground for a few nights. His uncle/auntie live up there too so we spent some time with his family. It was a nice little break and we had a good beach day over there too. We had a long weekend spent with his mostly Dutch family so we ate so much delicious food.

Sachie’s Kitchen Cooking Class

For Christmas, I gifted Max a Japanese food cooking class as we like to gift each other experiences. We were able to do the class in January and it was so much fun! I chose the Secret of Umami class. We love Japanese food and the menu sounded amazing.

The class was super fun and we learnt a few tips and tricks. We made 3 dishes: seasonal salad with sesame seed dressing, prawns and vegetable katsu and teriyaki chicken. Each dish was delicious and we’ve actually recreated the katsu and teriyaki chicken at home already.

I highly recommend Sachie’s Kitchen classes. They have more cuisines too! It’s a great activity if you enjoy food/cooking.

Iliza Shlesinger Comedy show

We love Iliza’s comedy. We’ve watched a few of her shows on Netflix so when she was in Auckland, I got us tickets. We had drinks and dinner at my favourite The Churchill and then watched the show which was hilarious.

Te Matatini

For work, I was able to go to Te Matatini which is the kapa haka festival here in NZ/Aotearoa. It was held in Auckland this year and it was my first time going. It was such an awesome experience to be surrounded by people celebrating Māori culture and excellence.

Joan’s birthday

For my sister’s birthday we had dinner at Ebisu. I’ve been to Ebisu a few times and it’s always good. We love Japanese food. Their prawn tempura and miso eggplant are great. Then we also had brunch with family at Dear Friends in Milford. The food was pretty good and they do big serving sizes! It is quite busy and loud inside the cafe though.

Max’s work event

A few weekends ago, I tagged along with Max for his work event where we got to dress up. I wore this Kookai dress I found on sale and I loved the colour. I don’t usually like a bodycon-type fitting dress but Joan insisted I looked good in it. I was initially conscious of my body but I loved the colour and how the material of the dress so I wore it.

Auckland Art Fair

The next day, we checked out the Auckland Art Fair. Max and I like looking at art. We have fun going through the stalls and some art were very interesting and quite expensive. We had a nice day out in the city.

Catch-ups with friends

I have to admit that I’m not great at keeping in touch with friends. Our lives can get quite busy and we’re all going through different things. However, I appreciate the times I catch up with friends through lunches, drinks/dinner etc. My friend Antonia was in NZ in February and I was so excited to see her and meet her fiancé. Due to the cyclone (that caused so much devastation here in NZ), their trip was cut short but I’m glad we managed to spend a day in the city and celebrate their engagement in Ima. I also had dinner with old work mates. These catchups I have usually involve food which is awesome!

Harry Styles Concert

As I noted above, I got covid due to attending this concert but besides that, I had a great time. It’s my first concert for this year and even though I wasn’t a superfan of Harry Styles, I do like his music, especially from his first solo album. His concert had such an awesome vibe and he sounded great.

Gel Nail Kit

So I bought a gel nail kit shortly after my birthday in January and since getting it, I’ve been enjoying doing my nails. I got my nails done at a salon for NYE and I loved the nail art but it’s $60 and I didn’t want to keep getting my nails done as it’s an expensive treat. Max had an idea of getting a nail kit online and that was the start of our nail obsession. I plan on maybe writing a separate post on this once I’ve had my kit for longer but so far it’s well worth it and I got my money’s worth already!

I’m sure I missed a few things but these are the ones I can think of so far. The past few months have been a rollercoaster for me. It has challenged me mentally and physically. There is so much more to come though and despite not having the best start to the year, I’m looking forward the rest of the year. At least, I have our Europe trip to look forward to!

Lastly, the past month or so I’ve kinda been into Tiktok which I thought I would never get into! I post more random content on there and I currently find it more fun than Instagram. I started because I wanted some Europe recommendations and then I got hooked. If youre on TT, my username is the same everywhere: @astylecollector.

I’ve rambled so much already so if you made it this far, thank you for reading my brain dump! 🙂

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