Phuket & Bangkok 2017

This post isn’t fitness-related, but I want to share some photos of my trip to Phuket & Bangkok last month. My husband and I wanted to celebrate our honeymoon in Phuket because it’s much cheaper than other destinations (like Maldives) and we love Thai food – so that was one of the many deciding factors.

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We stayed in two hotels in Phuket, though the first one was just for a couple of days as the majority of our trip was spent in Ko Yao Yai Island, which is a 20-minute boat ride from Phuket mainland.

In Phuket, we stayed at Perennial Resort, located within a 10-minute drive from Phuket International Airport. Resembling a French cottage, I was pleasantly surprised by how quaint and homely this place was. Plenty of picturesque spots throughout the premise if you’re looking to jazz up your Instagram!

We also rented a car to get around, visiting several landmarks such as Yanui Beach, Rawai Beach, and Windmill Viewpoint. Along the way, we stopped at prominent cafes and restaurants such as Atsumi Raw Cafe & Bake Free Phuket to refuel.

The highlight of the trip, however, is Santhiya Resorts & Spa, a breathtaking five-star resort on Ko Yao Yai Island. Honestly, there’s nothing much to do on the island, but that meant that we can spend quality time together. Surrounded by a lush forest, our teak-wood villa has an infinity pool overlooking the Andaman Sea as well as an open-air Jacuzzi and shower.

The resort also offers complimentary yoga and Muay Thai classes daily, and we definitely took advantage of those perks. There are five onsite restaurants in Santhiya Resorts & Spa, but we only ate at three during our stay. The price range may be higher compared to what you may get on the mainland, the portions are huge as the clientele here is mostly western tourists.

After four nights in paradise, we then flew to Bangkok via Nok Air, where we stayed in a cosy and private room (which we found on AirBnB). The rest of the vacation was spent eating (and I mean LOTS of eating) while exploring the city’s markets and shopping malls. Overall, I had a great trip in both places, even though it was rainy season in Phuket.

I Ran A Half Marathon for the 1st Time

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Last Sunday, about 36,000 runners, locals and international alike, participated in the 9th Standard Chartered KL Marathon… and I was one of them. To be more precise, I ran 21 kilometers for the first time without any training so now my legs feel like they had been repeatedly hit by a truck.

I have to put it out there that running for hours (and hours x 10,000) is not my favourite way of working out. I much prefer getting fit by strength training, circuit training, and doing yoga. The last time I did any running was during last year’s 10-kilometer run, but it was more of a leisurely experience with my husband.

Registering for this year’s Honda Half Marathon Distance Category was done out of spontaneity, and I knew I could’ve just opted out if I didn’t feel like it but as the date grew closer, I decided to just go through with it.

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Post-Race: Tired but Proud

Since my husband and I lived about 30 minutes from KL City Center, we booked a room at Mingle Hostel in Petaling Street. Not only was this hostel affordable (less than RM100 per night), it’s also relatively close to Dataran Merdeka, where the event took place. Overall, it was a nice place if you’re staying for a short time, but I had trouble sleeping the night due to inconsiderate guests and poor soundproofing.

Grumpy and sleep deprived,  I forced myself out of bed at 04:30 to get ready and have breakfast (peanut butter & banana sandwich) before heading out with my husband. We arrived at about 05:00 and the venue was already packed! The race was due to start at 05:30 so after a quick warm-up, the gun went off and off we go!

The 21km route runs through the center of Kuala Lumpur, where I passed by notable landmarks such as the Petronas Twin Towers, Hard Rock Cafe, Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, and the Perdana Botanical Garden. Apart from stopping at a portaloo due to an upset stomach, I didn’t experience any other setback (like cramps) so I kept on moving, alternating between power walking and jogging. I also had a water bottle and snack bar on hand to keep myself hydrated and fueled throughout the run.

After passing the 18th kilometer mark, I was exhausted and wanted to quit so badly! Then I visualized myself crossing the finish line and that gave me the motivation I needed to get my butt back to Dataran Merdeka. In the end, I completed my first ever half marathon in a little over 3 hours and 37 minutes.

I treated myself to a tall glass of matcha latte before enjoying a huge lunch buffet at Westin Hotel Kuala Lumpur with the family.

Would I join a marathon again? NOPE. Although I’m proud of the fact that I’ve managed to finish the race, I’m still not a fan of running so I’ll be returning to my normal workout routine… as soon as I can walk properly.

Kokoda Memorial Walk (1000 Steps)

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Last week, I travelled to Melbourne for my first-ever solo holiday. I stayed in the CBD for the first couple of days before taking the train to the Dandenong Ranges to explore the National Park, specifically the Kokoda Memorial Walk.

Also known as the 1000 Steps, climbing to the top does require a relatively good stamina which was perfect for me as I was looking to stay active during my holiday. In reality, it’s only about 800 steps so it takes between 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours to complete the return trip.

However, I did have to pause several times to catch my breath as the climb is rather steep and slippery as it had rained heavily the day before. The view when you get to the top of Kokoda Memorial Walk isn’t very breathtaking, but what you’ll get is fresh air, towering trees, and a sense of accomplishment of completing the challenging uphill hike.

Fitness Blender’s 4-Week FBSweat

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It’s been a while since my last update, but today’s post is about my personal experience in working out using one of Fitness Blender’s workout programs, specifically the 4-WEEK FBSWEAT. I used to be quite skeptical about following online programs because I was sure that I would give up halfway and waste a ton of money purchasing them.

But I have been using Fitness Blender’s free workout videos for a while now, so I thought it’s about time I contribute more than just views on Youtube. Besides, I only need to fork out US$9.99 for about a month’s worth of workout videos, which is wayyyyy less than other online workout programs out there (no offense BBG, but you’re too expensive for me…for now).

What I loved about this 4-week program is that I can choose the workout duration of the day, which ranges between 30 to 50 minutes for six days a week. On days when I didn’t feel like spending a lot of time at the gym, I opted for the shortest duration but most of the time, I challenged myself and went for the max.

Another thing that kept me motivated throughout the four weeks was the diversity in workouts. I was expecting boring cardio and strength training, but I was far from right! Pilates, yoga, HIIT, upper body, lower body strength training were spread out throughout the week, and I was sore like hell, but in a strangely enjoyable way.

I’ve also been cleaning up my diet by avoiding sugary food and coffee as I found both substances affected my mood and performance at the gym. I’ve been also weighing myself every week to keep track of the changes, but to be honest I wish I had access to a Body Composition Analysis, but I’ve quit Bodytone for a while now, so I had to make do with a traditional weighing scale. So here are my results during and after completing 4-WEEK FBSWEAT.

Week 0: 56.9kg
Week 1: 56.1kg
Week 2: 55.7kg
Week 3: 55.8kg
Week 4: 55.3kg

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Front : Week 4 vs Week 1
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Back : Week 4 vs Week 1

Although some may think that it’s not a very impressive change, but I’ve found that my clothes fit better, I can lift heavier, and I have a lot more energy throughout the day. To me, that’s worth celebrating. All in all, I highly recommend this program to anyone who wants to improve their fitness level but can’t afford a fancy gym membership. Many thanks to Kelli & Daniel for all the wonderful workout videos and tips on living healthy in a sustainable way!

What Happened When I Joined KFit For 1 Month

This is a long overdue post, but for the entire month of January, I decided to join KFit, a mobile app that lets you book classes at different fitness studios. Although the app is free to download, you are required to pay RM139 each month for their Fitness Pass package, which allows you attend 10 classes in total.

You can find tons of activities at various times and locations in Kuala Lumpur, such as bootcamp, Muay Thai, yoga, Crossfit, and Zumba. A penalty fee is charged if you skip or cancel the class (depending on the studio, there’s a free cancellation period between 1 hour to 24 hours), making you accountable for your workouts.

Once your 10 sessions are finished, you can also opt for additional classes as there are prices listed for each activity. I got a promotion code (where I only paid RM89 for 10 classes), so I decided to give it a shot since there are tons of fitness studios which I’ve been curious to try out.

So here’s what I’ve learned when I joined KFit for 1 month:

Pros:

  1. I get to try a variety of workouts throughout the month, from Pilates and yoga to body-weight circuits and kickboxing. My favourite was Muay Thai at Cross Muay Thai (even though the app states that it’s an hour-long session, it was actually over 2 hours!)
  2. Although I love working out on my own using Fitness Blender and free weights, having people doing grueling push-ups together with me is very motivating. It also helps to have an instructor around to correct your form!

Cons:

  1. Because of the free cancellation period, I often find myself overcome by laziness and cancel classes way too often.
  2. Instructors automatically assume I’m a beginner, so they often encourage me to take it slow and not overexert myself.
  3. Premium classes such as personal training are available during inconvenient hours. I work an 8-5 job, so I didn’t have the opportunity to try those sessions that month.

Personally, I wouldn’t continue with the Fitness Pass package because it’s rather expensive as most gyms offer unlimited classes per month with that sort of price (or even lower). However, KFit is ideal if you’re a beginner and want variety in your fitness routine as it has pretty much every single type of activity you can hope for.

Baked Eggs with Tomatoes & Bell Pepper

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetAlso known as shakshuka, this is my go-to dish whenever I crave something savoury for breakfast. While the original recipe for this Middle Eastern dish calls for tomato paste, we’ve decided to omit it since it has enough flavour thanks to the juicy tomatoes and onions. Technically, my husband is the one who cooks this most (okay, ALL) of the time, but here’s the recipe if you’d like to try this out.

Baked Eggs with Tomatoes & Bell Pepper

2 eggs
1 handful of spinach (or kale)
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 white onion, diced
½ bell pepper, diced
Pinch of black pepper & sea salt

  • Heat oil in a frying pan over a medium heat
  • Add in diced onion & cook until translucent before
  • Add in bell peppers and continue cooking for about 2 minutes
  • Pour in the tomatoes, mashing them until it becomes a sauce-like consistency
  • Taste and adjust your seasonings accordingly (add cayenne pepper if you prefer it spicy)
  • Transfer the sauce mixture into a ramekin and make 2 divots with a spoon
  • Carefully crack eggs into the divots, and bake in a preheated oven (17°C) for 10 minutes.
  • Remove and serve with 1 whole wheat toast

2016: A Year in Retrospect

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Now that we’re inching that much closer to the New Year, I thought I’d share some great experiences and changes I’ve made throughout 2016. I’m not saying that I’ve perfected my fitness routines or completely eliminated all sweets and desserts. A healthy lifestyle is different for everybody, and I’m definitely still learning but here are several habits that have greatly improved my health in 2016.

Dietary

  1. Meal prep on weekdays
  2. Eating out on weekends, but still getting enough greens & protein in each meal
  3. Snacking on fruit, nuts or yoghurt in between meals
  4. Eating 3 – 4 types of vegetables for lunch and dinner
  5. Enjoying something sweet for breakfast, usually peanut butter & banana on toast or oatmeal
  6. Drinking at least 4 litres of water every day, plus 1 -2 litres after working out
  7. Switching coffee for tea (chai and matcha latte are my saviours)

Fitness

  1. Signed up for free workout sessions (I’ve been lucky to participate in several this year)
  2. Strength training (either with Bodytone or at home) 2 – 3 times weekly
  3. HIIT 2 – 3 times weekly
  4. Hot Pilates 2 times weekly
  5. 1 rest day (which I spend getting a massage and/or facial)
  6. August – 10km marathon by Standard Chartered KL
  7. November – 2-hour Zumba Festival by SCORE Fitness

Next year, I’ll be focusing a lot more on my strength and flexibility, so I’ll be practicing yoga and lifting heavier weights consistently. There’s no set plan yet as I want to enjoy my holiday as much as possible, but I’ll get back on track in January. Here’s to more great adventures in 2017!

Women’s Health Fitness Squad with Calvin Klein Performance

Join The Women’s Health X CK Performance Fitness Squad!

Back in November, I attended an exclusive bootcamp session by Women’s Health Magazine Malaysia and Calvin Klein Performance. Held at Celebrity Fitness Mid Valley, only 60 ladies were chosen for this event so needless to say, I was incredibly lucky to be able to be part of such an event.

Itinerary

8.00am      –   Registration and T-shirt collection (Celebrity Fitness, Mid Valley)

8.30am      –   Bootcamp starts

10.00am    –   Bootcamp ends (proceed to the new Calvin Klein Performance outlet)

10.30am    –   Introduction of The Fitness Squad by Editor-in-Chief Sueann Chong and styling talk by Fashion and Beauty Editor Audra Roslani

10.45am    –   Refreshment, Shopping & collection of goodie bags

11.30am    –   End (announcement of selfie contest winners)

After collecting and changing into our Calvin Klein workout top, we were ushered into an air-conditioned hall to do 10 – 15 minutes of light warmups. After a quick speech by Sueann, editor of Women’s Health Malaysia, we were divided into groups of 20 and our trainers of the day led us to different workout stations.

There are 3 stations, each of which has 2 trainers teaching us how to do 4 types of HIIT (high-intensity training) exercises. We have 1 minute to complete each exercise before switching to the next one. Thankfully, I’m familiar with all of the exercises but that didn’t mean I was breezing away!

Station 1:

  • Burpees
  • Elbow Plank
  • Walking Lunges
  • Bodyweight Squats
  • Lizard Jumps

Station 2

  • Plank Jacks
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Flutter Jacks
  • Lateral Skater Jumps

Station 3

  • Push Up and Medicine Ball Tap
  • Situps
  • Squat Jumps
  • Jumping Lunges

Whew! It was one challenging bootcamp session for me, especially when it came to Lateral Skater Jumps. I was (still am) rather uncoordinated whenever legs are involved, so I had to stop a few times to find my balance and get the moves right, only managing to do so during the last 20 second of the interval (oops).

After our cooldown and a quick photo session with the entire crew, we went down to the Calvin Klein Performance outlet where refreshments were served courtesy of Delicious Café. All of us were also entitled to a 30% storewide discount and a shot at winning RM500 CK Performance shopping vouchers. Even though I didn’t win, I was still happy I got a free workout top and session that day.

I would like to thank Women’s Health Magazine Malaysia for their efforts in empowering women to look and feel their best regardless of age, size, and lifestyle. Looking forward to the next Fitness Squad session!

Bodytone Mont Kiara’s Beach Bod Workout (Thursday 17/8)

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Disclaimer: this post was written a while ago (Thursday 17th August, 2016 to be exact), but I really want to share my experience at one of my favourite fitness studios in KL. 

I was in Malacca with my fiancé and his family for the weekend and ended up about 2kg heavier thanks to all the good food and Klebang coconut shakes! We did a lot of walking in Jonker Street but the hot weather had me craving more food so it didn’t really help much. So this week, I booked a session with Bodytone called Beach Bod with Nasrun which I’ve never done before but I’ve heard good things from other members.

I arrived quite early so I updated my measurements using the Body Composition Analysis as my previous test was done about two months ago. Basically it’s an upgraded weighing scale that also detects your BMI, WHR (waist-to-hip ratio) BMR (basal metabolic rate), lean body mass, body fat mass, etc. Thankfully, the results came out relatively positive:

  • Weight: – 1.9kg
  • Muscle +0.5kg
  • Fat -1.2kg
  • BMR +12 calories

Unsurprisingly, I felt more motivated to work out so once everybody got ready, we moved right on Beach Bod. Here’s what we did for total of 45 minutes after a five-minute warmup.

  • Set 1:

Kettlebell Deadlift + Squat + Press – 20 reps (5kg)

Plank – 1 min

  • Set 2

Dumbbell Press + Rotate – 14 reps (4kg on each hand)

Side plank (right) 30s

Side plank (left) 30s

  • Set 3

Push Up + Mountain Climbers – 14 reps

Russian Twist with Kettlebell – 20 reps (5kg)

Reverse Crunch – 20 reps

Repeat each group of exercises three times, rest for about 20 seconds before moving on to the next one. Although I did the entire workout on a Power Plate, these exercises can be done in your living room or gym and are equally (if not more) challenging if you’re using heavier weights. Good luck!

Avocado Pesto Pasta

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetGreat for when you’re famished and pressed for time, this recipe for avocado pesto takes less than 5 minutes to make. While I topped my pasta with just a poached egg and tomato slices, you can add whatever ingredient you have on hand – smoked salmon, chili flakes with baby spinach work wonderfully as well.

Avocado Pesto Pasta Recipe

1 avocado, halved & pitted
100g basil leaves
50g baby spinach
Juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon of olive oil
¼ teaspoon of salt & black pepper
2 ounce uncooked pasta
1 organic egg, poached
1 medium tomato, thinly sliced

  • Combine the first 5 ingredients into a blender and pulse until smooth
  • Place pasta into a pot of boiling water and let it cook until done (about 8 mins)
  • Drain pasta onto mixing bowl
  • Add pesto and mix until pasta is fully coated
  • Divide into two plates
  • Top with tomato slices (and poached egg if desired)