2017: A Year in Retrospect

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Hello! I’m back with another post to finish off the year strong and be mentally prepared for 2018. I have to admit, 2017 was a challenging year for me. There were several incidents that nearly had me throwing the towel and reverting to an unhealthy mindset. Those moments turned out to be blessings in disguise as I finally decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and took charge on my health and fitness journey.

What Went Wrong

  1. Became overly obsessed with MyFitnessPal
  2. Developed an unhealthy relationship with food
  3. Overtrained to the point where I was constantly stressed out

First of all, I’m not saying that calorie-counting apps are evil, nor am I hating on people who swear by them. I’ve heard a lot of people who’ve had seen good progress in their weight-lose journey by using MyFitnessPal, but personally, the app had a negative impact on my mental health, to say the least.

At first, things were really great. I ate a pretty balanced diet and exercised consistently. About three months later, I have to admit that I became incredibly obsessed with the numbers — how many grams of carbs, protein and fat I’m allowed to eat in a day, how many calories I burned by working out, and even how much I could eat during cheat days.

It went on until I had a complete breakdown in October, when all I felt was guilt and shame. I knew I had developed a disordered eating habit, where I would eat super super clean during the week, then binged on cakes, ice-cream, and everything sugary on weekends. It was a vicious cycle which affected my mood, personality, and motivation to get up in the morning.

What Went Great

  1. Completed my first half-marathon
  2. Solo trip to Melbourne, Australia
  3. Deleted MyFitnessPal
  4. Stopped weighing myself
  5. Subscribed to Guavapass
  6. Started meditating & intuitive eating
  7. Won a pair of Nike shoes and tee shirt (post coming soon)
  8. Won RM1200 worth of goodies at an event (post coming soon)
  9. Interacted with positive people, both offline and online

In December, I made a conscious decision to delete MyFitnessPal from my phone and started listening to my body. I stopped comparing myself with girls who constantly post workout videos and subtle fit-shaming captions on social media. I got rid of my body scale and rested (instead of forcing myself to work out) whenever I felt tired or sore. I also started following accounts that promote body positivity and self-care, such as Kelly U.

Around the same time, I rediscovered yoga and Headspace to help overcome my anxiety and insomnia. I tried to mediate for at least 10 minutes each day, but most weeks I only managed 4 or 5 times. Despite my inconsistency, meditation did reduce a lot of self-sabotaging thoughts that were keeping me up at night.

I also started using Guavapass, which is an app that lets you go to various fitness studios in Kuala Lumpur (and several countries) at a reasonably-priced monthly rate. The package I chose was 10 classes for RM150, and it’s one of the best investments I made this year. Thanks to all the wonderful trainers and trainees I encountered in those classes, my mindset shifted from needing to exercise to fit into a certain size to wanting to enjoy a fun time working out.

There were many more exciting things that happened within this month alone, which will be posted on this blog within the next few weeks. I just want to post this one as soon as I can as it’s still fresh in my mind. I also hope that my experience will inspire and motivate you to keep going, even when life seems bleak at the moment.

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Quick Somen Noodle Bowl

2017-12-10-06-43-45-2.jpgI’m back with another easy recipe that’s perfect for days when cooking dinner (after a long day at work) feels like a chore. From start to finish, this somen noodle bowl took me less than 5 minutes to make as the only things that required cooking are the noodles and vegetables. I used asparagus in this recipe, but you can also substitute it with whatever you prefer. You can even use raw greens such as sprouts or spinach, which saves even more time!

Quick Noodle Bowl

2-3 slices of smoked salmon (my favourite is from Ikea)
90g Hakubaku organic somen (I got mine from Signature Market)
4 -6 stalks of asparagus
2 tablespoon of kimchi
Pinch of black pepper & sea salt

  • Steam asparagus until it turns bright green (about 5 minutes)
  • Cook somen according to package instructions (this one took only 2 minutes
  • Drain and rinse somen with cool water to stop the cooking process
  • Serve somen on a plate and top it with the asparagus, smoked salmon, and kimchi
  • Season with black pepper and sea salt
  • Add a soft boiled egg for an extra hit of protein

Sweet Mess at The Playground Fitness

The Playground Fitness is a modern coaching facility in Bangsar, which I recently discovered through Guavapass (review coming soon). Located within a condominium called Nadi Bangsar, it’s definitely one of the most photogenic studios I’ve ever been to.

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They offer four types of classes – Sweet Mess, 4 Play, Bee Sting & Power Play. So far, I’ve only attended Sweet Mess, which is a 60-minute class that focuses on circuit training & HIIT.

The class was divided into three rounds: For Round 1 & 2, we had to complete four 1-minute exercises, which included jumping lunges, kettlebell swings, box jumps, and TRX rows. After completing each exercise, we weren’t allowed to rest.

Instead, we did 30 seconds of body-weight workouts. Our options were burpees, jumping jacks, ladder drills, and mountain climbers. We moved on to Round 3, which was a combination of Round 1 and 2 (minus the body-weight exercises).

Just when we thought our class was over, our instructor, Charles, divided us into pairs and gave us two tennis balls. Because there were only three of us, he joined in as well. We then had to throw both balls at each other, and whoever drops a ball had to do a burpee.

It was to train our mental and physical coordination after a grueling HIIT workout. All of us were dead by that point, so everyone did at least three burpees. Our super kind instructor then had us do FIVE to finish the session.

But wait! The class wasn’t over yet! He then brought out four PVC pipes. We had to hold each pipe steady using just two fingers, and on his cue, let go and catch the other pipe before it fell. Failure to do so resulted in a burpee. Joy. We continued the game for a short while before we finished with FIVE more burpees. More joy.

Overall, I really enjoyed Sweet Mess, especially the second half. Even though I was exhausted, Charle’s enthusiasm was really motivating. I also liked the fact that he made sure we’re using proper form and supported us during the more fatiguing workouts.

As I’ve mentioned, I booked the class via Guavapass, but The Playground Fitness also has walk-in rates that cost RM79 (60 minutes) and RM39 (30 minutes). You can find more information on their official website: https://www.theplayground.fit/pricing

Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 07:30 – 20:30, Saturday & Sunday 08:00 – 18:00
Address: Retail Level 2, Nadi Bangsar, 6, Jalan Tandok, Bangsar
Tel: 012-875 2937

I. Am. Struggling.

Back in August, I was in a pretty good place when it comes to exercising and tracking macros. Instead of prepping all of my meals at home and eating super clean all the time, I incorporated the occasional sweet treat and fried food some days of the week – even a Maple Pecan Latte from Starbucks (which tastes amazing btw).

The following month, I went back to my hometown for a weekend. At first, I was doing okay, like eating plenty of vegetables and protein every time I eat out (which was all the time). But then it got to a point where I actually gobbled up a whole tub of ice cream, blended drinks, and local pastries even though I was already very, very full.

The result? Unsurprisingly I got food poisoning and couldn’t work for an entire week after I got back to KL. It was the worst feeling in the world, and it took a toll on my body and mind, especially the latter.

I hated myself for not being able to stop eating, hated myself for not being so weak, hated the way my body looked, hated everything. Even after recovering and returning to my usual routine (tracking macros, strength training, and HIIT), I’m still afraid.

There are moments when I would finish half a bar of chocolate in one sitting, which sent me into a spiral of anxiety and guilt. There are moments when I look into the mirror and felt like a blob even though I had hit a PR for my deadlift or bench press the night before. There are moments when I feel guilty for skipping a workout when I got back late from work.

I know that this is something I need to overcome in order to truly be healthy, but it’s hard. Despite my partner telling me that he loves me no matter what, I struggle to love myself. I struggle to not feel guilty for wanting ice cream or sharing a slice of cake with my family.

I. Am. Struggling.

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