Me posing in a green gingham dress in a mint green and gold room of the Charlottenburg Palace

I’m Lily, the creator behind Imperfect Idealist, a blog dedicated to mindful and active living.

This site primarily features running gear reviews, sustainable fashion literacy, and travel guides. My goal is to write helpful guides based on my personal experience and research, and to advocate for the planet and its people.

I do all the writing on this site and take all my photos (with some occasional, notated stock photos from Depositphotos when I don’t have my own), and none of my content is AI-generated.

Here’s a little bit of background on how I got into the three main focuses of this blog: running, sustainable fashion, and travel.

How I Got Into Running/Running Tech

Me running on a cloudy day in Vevey

In middle school, I did a charity 5k for my friend’s mother with cancer. It took me over 50 minutes since a friend and I mistook the post-race refreshments tent for the finish line and started eating before actually finishing!

I’d never pushed myself that hard physically, and I loved that sense of fulfillment afterwards. I kept running one mile each morning, gradually walking less and less. I liked it so much that I even joined the cross country team.

In senior year of high school, a friend and I “accidentally” ran a half marathon at cross country camp (I wrote my college essay about it and how I needed to poop really badly during that run). We went on to do two more official half marathons together.

In college, I wanted to tackle longer distances. I set my sights on the marathon distance, but I got injured two training cycles in a row. The second injury was a stress reaction (the step before fracture), and I had to take 2 months off running. I tried to make the most of things and picked up swimming and biking, eventually doing a few triathlons.

I finally ran my first marathon in 2016 and have run six more since then (I even did a 50k in 2018!). Running is definitely not a linear journey, but I love working towards new challenges. My current PRs are 1:44:01 for the half marathon (2015) and 3:53:46 for the full marathon (2021).

Running tech:

I started doing running tech reviews in 2019, when the first GPS watch I bought (Forerunner 235) wasn’t what I expected at all. I was confused since it was the holy grail of watches at the time, and I hated how clunky and uncomfortable it was.

I ended up going for the Vivoactive 3 Music instead, and I wrote a comparison post since I thought it might help others. That post started getting organic traffic, so I started testing more watches and writing more!

I’ve since tried dozens of watches over the last four years (mostly from media loaners or borrowing from friends for sustainability purposes), and I love to get nerdy and compare different features to help you pick the best watch.

How I Got Into Sustainable Fashion

Me on a bridge in Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the background

I actually used to be a fast fashion blogger before pivoting to sustainable fashion in 2020. In high school and middle school, I’d regularly go shopping with my mom and buy tons of clothes I didn’t need. In college and shortly after graduating, I was mindful of my personal consumption after learning about fashion’s environmental impact, but wasn’t really involved in sustainable fashion directly.

I started blogging about sustainable fashion because I saw a lot misconceptions about and within the movement; it seemed too focused on buying from expensive ethical brands rather than true sustainability, which means slowing down, learning to care for your clothes, and advocating for better laws (regardless of where you shop). You don’t have to be rich to participate in sustainable fashion; in fact, poor people have been participating in it all this time, out of necessity.

My first pieces of sustainable fashion content really seemed to resonate with people, so I continued creating more, and the rest is history. I like to share accessible, practical guides based on my experience, philosophy, and in-depth research.

To ensure that my content makes a tangible difference, I also donate a portion of my income from this blog to sustainability funds. In 2021, I donated $1,200 (10% of my take-home blog income) to the Garment Worker Center Emergency Relief Fund. From 2022-2023, I’ve donated $4,700 total to the same fund and Remake’s Direct Relief fund.

How I Got Into Traveling

Me hiking Chamechaude

As the daughter of Chinese immigrants, I’m no stranger to travel, but growing up, I mainly traveled to see family.

I started traveling for fun and on my own when I studied abroad in Bordeaux and Oxford my junior year of college. I never actually went outside France or the UK though, spending most of my breaks in France to practice my conversation skills (I even banned myself from speaking English for a month).

After college, I lived in Dijon for a year while teaching English at the local university, where I got to visit more of France and the UK, but also Spain, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Montenegro.

During the pandemic, I started a local travel blog dedicated to Boston.

In 2023, I started a more nomadic lifestyle, visiting a new place almost every month. I even spent two months traveling and working remotely in Europe!

I oddly love the feeling of “being foreign,” as you feel more aware and appreciative of your surroundings, and there’s mutual curiosity about the local culture and your culture. I hope to spend more time traveling around and making new connections while life allows me to!

What I Do Outside of Blogging

Contrary to popular belief, this blog is not my full-time job. I spend most of my day working remotely as the content manager for an education startup. Outside of the hobbies I’ve already mentioned here, I also like to cook plant-based food and watch anime in my spare time.